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UN Appeal $35 Million In Emergency Aid For Haiti

UN Appeals For $35 Million In Emergency Humanitarian Funds For Haiti

The United Nations today launched an emergency "Flash Appeal" for $35 million to meet the medical and nutritional needs of 3 million Haitians over the next six months.

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland told the press in New York that problems in the already troubled country have been exacerbated by recent turmoil. "What we saw is that the dramatic events of the last few weeks put the Haitian people, who were already suffering from deprivation and poverty, in an even more vulnerable position."

Regional organizations tried to work out a compromise between then-Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his unarmed opposition prior to Mr. Aristide's departure for the Central African Republic.

Humanitarian access is very limited in <" Haiti, which remains volatile, Mr. Egeland said. More than 3,000 prisoners have been released - and then armed by various gangs - while thousands of political activists are also carrying weapons. Looting, killing and arson are widespread in the capital, Port-au-Prince, he added.

The Flash Appeal runs in tandem with a consolidated appeal for $85 million launched last April to cover 18 months of humanitarian and other aid for the country of 8.3 million people.

But that drive has only received pledges of $38 million, so beyond food, water and sanitation, there is no money for other needs, such as economic recovery, one year after the appeal was launched, Mr. Egeland said.

"Haiti has by far the worst health indicators of the Americas before the crisis, with the highest infant and maternal mortality rates, the highest level of malnutrition and the highest percentage of people living with HIV/AIDS all over this hemisphere," he pointed out, appealing for donors to come forward with funds.

Currently, some 50 UN staff members are in Haiti, while a multidisciplinary assessment team will travel there tomorrow, according to a spokesman for the world body.

Fred Eckhard said in advance of the UN team's trip, one staffer left today to assess the security situation, which will be re-examined before each wave of UN staff is sent in.

"Some 16 political, military, police and logistics experts, as well as one information person, will go to begin planning the UN follow-on mission called for the Security Council," he reported. "A second wave made up primarily of representatives of UN agencies, funds and programmes could go in over the weekend, depending on the local security situation."

The Security Council approved a (2004) resolution on 29 February calling on the UN, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of American States (OAS) to "promote the rebuilding of democratic institutions" and combat poverty in Haiti.

The Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Reginald Dumas, is scheduled to visit Haiti early next week.

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