As hurricane blows toward Haiti, UN pre-positions humanitarian supplies

Haitian agencies have activated hurricane contingency plans urging population to move into safe houses of friends and relatives

2 November 2010 – Facing the possibility of landslides, flooding and washed-out roads and bridges if Haiti is hit by the full force of Hurricane Tomas, the United Nations and its humanitarian partners continue to dispatch urgent supplies to key areas on the island nation, a UN spokesman said today.

“Supplies are being pre-positioned notably in Jérémie, Les Cayes, Jacmel and Léogane which are expected to experience the storm more severely,” according to Martin Nesirky, who relayed the results of an assessment mission carried out by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Yesterday, Nigel Fisher, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti, led an inter-agency mission to such key places to evaluate emergency preparedness measures in place. Preparations are also being made in camps for internally displaced persons, Mr. Nesirky said.

The UN mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH, along with the Haitian Government and relief partners, have joined forces to initiate contingency plans, mobilize stocks and identify gaps as the hurricane approaches, on top of managing the continuing response to the cholera epidemic and the devastating January earthquake.

Priority needs include 150,000 tarpaulins, 90,000 cases of soap and hygiene kits, 20,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts to treat cholera and 200 field tents, as well as logistics support, OCHA reported.

Yesterday, Mr. Fisher underlined the need for as many supplies as possible to be in place before Hurricane Tomas hits. “With our Haitian counterparts, we are appealing to donors, to organizations in the region and to humanitarian partners to help us get what we need in time,” he said.

Meanwhile, MINUSTAH said today it will continue to constantly test its installations for evidence of cholera contamination, in the interest of protecting Haitian people and its own personnel.

“The Mission remains committed to acting quickly, with complete transparency, and in close coordination with the Government in all efforts to fight this epidemic and other issues in Haiti,” said Mr. Nesirky, the spokesperson of the Secretary-General.

Additional tests of water samples from the military camp of Mirebalais were conducted last Wednesday. Mr. Nesirky said it could be now confirmed that the tests were analyzed by an independent laboratory and proved to be negative.

Those analyses followed tests conducted on 22 and 26 October, which also returned a negative result, the spokesman said.


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