New York

20 January 2010

Secretary-General's Remarks at Mass at Holy Family Church in Remembrance of Those Who Died in Haiti, and Press Encounter Preceding the Ceremony

Your Excellency, Archbishop Migliore, Father Robbins, Your Excellency Ambassador Léo Mérorès of Haiti, Excellencies, Dear Colleagues and Friends,

As many of you know, we meet here every year in September, at the opening of the General Assembly, to pray for world peace.

It is my sad duty to be here today on a very different occasion:

To remember and mourn those we have lost in Haiti, and to pray for those who are suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Haiti has lost tens of thousands, of its people.

Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their homes.

Haitians have proven their resilience many times.

They are showing that same, extraordinary resilience and sense of solidarity today.

For the UN, it is the gravest single tragedy in the history of the Organization.

Nearly 50 of our colleagues have lost their lives and still many are not accounted for.

Yet, the United Nations is carrying out its work.

We know that the dearest wish of our fallen colleagues is for the United Nations to carry forward the noble mission they have left for us to finish.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The United Nations and the international community have mobilized humanitarian assistance and early recovery operations.

Long-term reconstruction is now being discussed.

Our mission was up and running again within hours of the disaster, despite the fact that some of those working had lost close family members, friends and colleagues.

I thank Member States of the United Nations for their generous and swift support. I am deeply moved by this expression of love and of our common humanity.

Haiti needs all of our help. It needs your help.

Haitians are a people of strong faith, which sustains and comforts them during this difficult time.

The power of faith is immeasurable. It brings inspiration and support to us when we are in trouble.

It eases our pain and lightens our load.

It often points the way ahead.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Au peuple haïtien, voici ce que je voudrais dire :

Chers Haïtiens, chères Haïtiennes,

Ce que vous venez de vivre est une immense tragédie. Je pleure la perte de valeureux amis.

Sachez que le monde entier est à vos côtés. L'ONU fait absolument tout ce qui est en son pouvoir pour vous venir en aide.

L'ONU vous tient la main.

Mesi anpil.

Thank you all, for this beautiful service, and for your support and prayers in Haiti's time of need.

Thank you.


Secretary-General's press encounter preceding the Service at Holy Family Church, New York

Q: What is your message to the people of Haiti who are desperate for any news?

SG: I know this is a very difficult challenge, and difficulty, and I was in Haiti last Sunday. I have seen for myself how difficult it was for people. Now, this tragedy can be turned into an opportunity for the Haitian people. All the international community is standing behind the Haitian people. I was impressed by the resilience and determined will

of the leadership of Haiti, President Préval, the Prime Minister, and most importantly, the people who are united. And together, with the international community, I am sure that we will overcome this tragedy. The United Nations will continue to coordinate with the international community to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance. At this time, we have three priorities: first of all to provide security, second, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance. At the same time, and more importantly, we have to discuss how we can reconstruct Haiti, and the Haitian economy.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, why has help been so slow to come to Haiti? The people are crying out. They are desperate.

SG: I know in the initial few days there was some delays, but we have now built up very effective mechanisms to unlock and unblock these bottlenecks. We have established five land corridors. We have improved the airport facilities. Now, we have introduced priority slotting systems so whoever, and whatever humanitarian assistance is coming, they will be given priority. Now we are going to have some port improvement facilities, and with a great support from the United States government. I have discussed with President Obama, and Secretary Clinton, most recently, and they are now trying to provide temporary port facilities, which will greatly lessen the bottlenecks.

Thank you.