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Fact Sheet

Haiti earthquake - one year anniversary

12 January 2011 marked the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti. The quake killed more than 200,000 Haitians and left more than two million homeless.  Among those who perished were 102 United Nations personnel, constituting the highest loss of life from a single event in United Nations history. 

To celebrate their lives and honour all our friends and colleagues who perished on 12 January 2010, the one year anniversary was marked by a formal commemoration at the MINUSTAH headquarters in Port-au-Prince.  In New York, the Secretary-General conducted a solemn wreath-laying ceremony. 

Devastating earthquake

A tragic setback came for Haiti, when the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit on 12 January 2010. The earthquake levelled the capital city, delivered a severe blow to still shaky Haitian economy and infrastructure, and impeded nation-building efforts in the country. The catastrophe also led to a climate of political uncertainty, interrupting a period of relatively smooth progress towards legislative, presidential, and municipal elections previously scheduled to be held in February 2010.

Peacekeepers standing behind a stage with candles.
UN Photo

The UN mission, MINUSTAH, was also decimated. The loss of UN staff, including the Special Representative and his principal Deputy, was by far the greatest for any single event in UN peacekeeping’s 62-year history.

International response

Within hours of the earthquake, emergency relief operations were launched by the United Nations and a number of Member States. Specialized military and civilian units undertook search-and-rescue operations, established field hospitals and provided immediate support to life-saving assistance efforts and restoring key infrastructure. Despite its vast losses, MINUSTAH made extraordinary efforts to restore its capacity and acted decisively to respond to post-earthquake needs within its mandate and in line with the priorities of relief, security and restoration of State capacity. [For more information on the Mission’s activities and the international response, please see Secretary-General’s report S/2010/200 PDF Document of 22 April 2010.

In light of the catastrophic consequences of the earthquake on the capacity of the Haitian state, the Security Council, by its resolution 1908 of 19 January, endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendation to increase the overall force levels of MINUSTAH by 2,000 troops and 1,500 police to support immediate recovery, reconstruction, and stability efforts in the country.

In his semi-annual report [S/2010/200] PDF Document of 22 April 2010 on the situation in Haiti, the Secretary-General provided recommendations on the future role of the UN mission in Haiti. After entering a period of consolidation, MINUSTAH would require a surge effort in order to help the Government preserve the gains of stabilization to date and enable a smooth transition to long-term reconstruction. While much of this could be achieved by scaling up activities within the current mandate, the Secretary-General pointed to the need for greater technical, operational and logistical assistance to Government and state institutions.

Welcoming the Secretary-General’s report and its recommendations, the Security Council in its resolution 1927 of 4 June 2010 PDF Document authorized the deployment, on a temporary basis, of an additional 680 police to MINUSTAH to focus on building the capacity of the Haitian National Police. The Council also decided that, for the time being, the Mission would consist of a military component of up to 8,940 troops of all ranks and of a police component of up to 4,391 police.

The resolution further reiterated that the ownership and primary responsibility for stabilization and development lay with the Government and the people of Haiti, and recognizes the supporting role of MINUSTAH in this regard.

The Security Council also recognized the need for MINUSTAH to assist the Government of Haiti in providing adequate protection of the population and requested it to continue collaboration with OCHA and the United Nations Country Team in supporting the humanitarian and recovery efforts.

Among other things, the Council asked MINUSTAH to continue its support to the Haitian Government and to the Provisional Electoral Council in the preparation and conduct of Haiti’s elections, and to coordinate international electoral assistance to Haiti in cooperation with other international stakeholders including the OAS.

Key UN Statements