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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

UN Headquarters

27 January 2010


Opening remarks at a press encounter at UN Headquarters

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you for your willingness to come to this temporary building.

As you know, I leave this afternoon for London and then Addis Ababa. We shall have a proper press conference when I return from my trip.

Tomorrow's conference on Afghanistan comes at a critical moment.

The Afghan people want a larger say in their future, especially in terms of development. National ownership is essential.

At the same time, Afghans need to know that the international community will support them, over the long term, in building their institutions of government.

Moving ahead, we need a more balanced approach. Our civilian strategy cannot be an add-on to the military strategy.

Once again, I would like to take this opportunity to express on behalf of the Organization my sincere thanks and appreciation to Mr. Kai Eide for his leadership, courage and dedication in a job that involves considerable personal risk.

To continue to lead the UN mission, I intend to appoint Mr. Staffan de Mistura to succeed Mr. Eide as my Special Representative. I am grateful for the support from all important stakeholders to this appointment that will help UNAMA [the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan] extend its role in coordinating the international civilian effort in Afghanistan. Mr. De Mistura brings an enormous wealth of experience and skill to the role. He takes up his duties on March 1, and I am grateful to him for accepting this responsibility at some personal cost to himself.

The African Union summit also comes at a crucial time, involving vital issues of regional cooperation.

Elections in Sudan are just three months away. The international community must work together in Sudan to ensure the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). We must work to maintain peace and stability in Darfur as well as the broader region.

Other elections will take place elsewhere. I will discuss with African leaders how to ensure that these ballots are free and fair and bring real benefits to the countries' people.

I will also discuss climate change and its potentially devastating impact on Africa, as well as the important role that African leaders can play in supporting the Copenhagen Accord.

Finally, I plan to highlight the need to mobilize behind the Millennium Development Goals. The MDG deadline of 2015 is fast approaching. That is why I have called a summit in September in New York.

My hope is that the summit should generate a concrete plan for advancing action. It is important that African leaders attend -- and participate actively between now and then.

Let me close with an update on Haiti.

The UN mission and the UN agencies are working flat out, 24 hours, seven days. We are making progress. Relief is flowing more smoothly and we are reaching more people every day. We now have 150 health centers and hospitals up and running in Port au Prince. Banks began opening over the weekend.

This said, we have a long way to go. We need tents and shelter, desperately. The aim, agreed with the Government, is to help people where they are, with relatively few new camps.

The provision of food and escort security is also critical. I am confident, however, that the situation will begin to improve significantly by the end of the week.

The full death toll is still unknown. As for the United Nations: we have confirmed the deaths of 83 [people], as of this morning, with 32 still unaccounted for.

As we continue to meet the humanitarian challenge, we must move fast on early recovery. It is time for jobs, jobs for the Haitian people.

Our Flash Appeal for Haiti is now 66 [77] percent funded. In this regard, I want to thank the Governments of Japan and Saudi Arabia for their recent and generous contributions.

I have made a special appeal to support a “Cash for Work” program organized by UNDP. For the modest cost of $5 per person per day, we can put more than 200,000 Haitians back to work -- working to rebuild Haiti.

We are moving quickly to deploy the extra 3,500 police and soldiers authorized last week by the Security Council. I am deeply grateful to those who have answered the call.

I welcome the international solidarity shown at Monday's conference in Montreal.

The establishment of a Joint Operations Tasking Center is an important step in effectively coordinating the combined efforts of the United Nations, international community and Haitian Government.

Meanwhile, a detailed inter-agency assessment of humanitarian needs is already underway at more than 100 sites, led by my Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

What we also need now is a rigorous post-disaster needs assessment, so that the friends of Haiti can work effectively with the Government to lay plans for the country's longer-term reconstruction when we meet again at UN Headquarters in March.

These efforts should dovetail with the long-term development plans set out, before the earthquake, by President [Bill] Clinton, the UN Special Envoy, and others.

Our ultimate aim must be to build up Haiti, better than before, working with its Government and its brave and resilient people.

Thank you very much.