Mr. Alexandro Cujba, Vice President of ECOSOC, noted that “the international community has responded promptly to the disaster, however the response has highlighted the challenges of assessing needs, developing coherent strategy and deploying experienced staff to make sure that timely relief assistance is provided,” during the Panel discussion on “Humanitarian assistance operations in highly hazardous, or insecure and unsafe environments,” which took place during the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment from 13 – 15 July.
Panelists agreed that enormous challenges remain because of the scale of the disaster, especially with regard to shelter, food, health care and infrastructure. As many experts had predicted, lack of shelter has been one of the most difficult issues. “There are probably 1.6 million people living in temporary shelters in Puerto Prince”, highlighted Dr. Paul Farmer, the Deputy United Nations Special Envoy for Haiti, when he reviewed the logistic challenges of providing food water and medical care in these settings. Dr. Paul Farmer called for transferring money into Haitian hands through job creation.
Mrs. Debbie Landey, Director of the UN Development Operations Coordination Office (DOCO), reminded the meeting that “six months after the earthquake in Haiti, much has been achieved; many lives are and have been saved because of the relief effort. Haiti earthquake response was unusually complex and difficult for both the Haitian authorities and the international community”.
In addition, Mr. Leslie Voltaire, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Secretary-General of the UN said that in readiness“for the rainy season and the cyclone season an action plan is on the way… basically food and clothes are being stored and draining systems are being placed.”
During the Humanitarian Affairs Segment, Member States and Humanitarian Organizations discussed the challenges, opportunities and activities related to strengthening the coordination of UN emergency humanitarian assistance, including responses to the 12 February 2010 Haiti earthquake.