Ban Ki-moon's speeches


Opening remarks to the press on the earthquake in Haiti

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 13 January 2010

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. First of all, I would like to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the victims of yesterday's catastrophic earthquake in Haiti. Je suis vraiment désolé par le désastre qui vient de toucher Haïti. C'est une tragédie pour Haïti, pour le peuple Haïtien, et pour [L'Organisation des] Nations Unies.

Information on the full extent of the damage is still scanty. Initial reconnaissance and aerial assessments have been undertaken. It is now clear that the earthquake has had a devastating impact on the capital, Port-au-Prince. The remaining areas of Haiti appear to be largely unaffected.

As you are aware, buildings and infrastructure were heavily damaged throughout the capital. Basic services such as water and electricity have collapsed almost entirely.

We are yet to establish the number of dead or injured, which we fear may well be in the hundreds. Medical facilities have been inundated with injured.

There is no doubt that we are facing a major humanitarian emergency and that a major relief effort will be required.

I am grateful to those countries that are sending emergency relief. I urge all members of the international community to come to Haiti's aid in this hour of need.

Many of our UN colleagues on the ground, including my Special Representative in Haiti, Mr. [Hédi] Annabi, and his deputy, Mr. [Luiz Carlos] da Costa, are as yet unaccounted for.

The UN Headquarters at the Christopher Hotel collapsed in the quake. Many people are still trapped inside.

MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] troops have been working through the night to reach those trapped under the rubble. So far, several badly injured casualties have been retrieved and transported to the MINUSTAH logistics base, which thankfully remains intact. No names are available yet.

MINUSTAH has around 3,000 troops and police in and around Port-au-Prince to help maintain order and assist in relief efforts. MINUSTAH engineers have also begun clearing some of the main roads in Port-Au-Prince which will allow assistance and rescuers to reach those in need. I will dispatch Assistant Secretary-General and former Special Representative of the Secretary-General to MINUSTAH, Edmond Mulet, to Haiti as soon as possible.

The UN is also mobilizing an emergency response team to help coordinate humanitarian relief efforts, which will be on the ground shortly. We will immediately release $10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). In this regard, I am encouraged and appreciative of the willingness of the international community to extend immediate assistance and rescue missions. I am close consultation with the US Government and Haitian Government, as well as many others of the international community's major countries. In these times of difficulties, I would appeal again to the international community for urgent further assistance and urgent further help for them. Thank you very much.