UN appeals for over $100 million to aid Haiti storm-stricken survivors

MINUSTAH peacekeepers rescue Haitian children from rainstorm

10 September 2008 – The United Nations appealed today for over $100 million to help with humanitarian relief efforts for the survivors of a series of hurricanes that battered Haiti in the last three weeks, killing at least 328 people and leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.

Some 800,000 people, almost 10 per cent of the impoverished Caribbean country’s population, are in dire need of emergency assistance while tens of thousands of houses have been damaged and the entire harvest of this season has been destroyed.

A large number of the population were already facing extreme hardship before Hurricane Fay, the first of the storms, struck in mid-August with 53 per cent living on less than $1 per day and prices of basic foods rising by over 40 per cent since the beginning of the year.

The four tropical storms, Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike, have left nearly all agricultural land flooded, resulting in the loss of the corn, bean and banana harvest, particularly in the south and southeast.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is calling for donors to pledge almost $108 million to support the recovery and relief efforts over the next six months.

“I hope donors will respond generously to help the survivors of these devastating storms, which have affected such a broad swathe of a country and population already struggling with the effects of poverty and price rises,” said John Holmes, who heads OCHA.

“As the longer-term economic impact is also bound to be grave, support for the recover effort that follows will also be crucial,” Mr. Holmes – who serves as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator – added in a statement.

The appeal seeks just over $107 million for disaster response activities carried out by UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in coordination with the local Government and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The appeal will be updated and revised in a month as the situation evolves and as better assessments become possible.

Since the beginning of the humanitarian emergency, UN agencies, including the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), along with NGOs have been working together to ensure a closely coordinated response. The UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known by the French acronym MINUSTAH, has also been instrumental in relief efforts, particularly in the devastated northern city of Gonaïves.

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