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UN Humanitarian Mission Leaves For Haiti


First Members Of UN Humanitarian Mission Leave For Haiti

With United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan saying the international commitment to Haiti could be needed for "10 years or more," the first group from a UN multidisciplinary team went to the troubled Caribbean country today as humanitarian assessment missions resumed in its provinces.

"An inter-agency team, comprising representatives from the World Food Programme ( http://www.wfp.org/index.asp?section=2 WFP) and the UN Development Programme ( http://www.undp.org/ UNDP), is scheduled to assess needs in Gonaïves and Hinche today - if security conditions allow," UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told journalists in New York.

Representatives of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization ( http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2004/38373/index.html FAO) said, meanwhile, that Haitian farmers might be unable to sell their harvests and earn money to buy essential food. In yesterday's emergency http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/iha878.doc.htm humanitarian appeal for $35 million, FAO included $4 million to help improve food security and meet the food needs of some 3 million people.

In a separate development, the Secretary-General, in his http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/sgsm9190.doc.htm address yesterday to both Houses of the Canadian Parliament, made a special plea for a long-term commitment to Haiti. "Half-hearted efforts of the past have been insufficient," he said. "We cannot afford to fail this time."

At a subsequent http://www.un.org/apps/sg/offthecuff.asp?nid=556 news conference, which followed his meeting with Prime Minister Paul Martin, Mr. Annan said the commitment to http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocusRel.asp?infocusID=91&Body=Haiti&Body1= Haiti could be needed for at least 10 years.

He also said the Security Council, in passing a 29 February http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=s/res/1529 (2004) resolution whose preamble said the Council had taken note of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's resignation, had acted on the basis of a letter of resignation and the transfer of power to Haiti's Chief Justice.

The Council had determined that a multinational force was needed because of the volatility in the country, Mr. Annan said.

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