Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed visited Haiti last night to express the UN’s unwavering support for the Haitian people following the earthquake that devastated the country six days ago.
The number of people affected continues to rise following the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit Haiti’s southern peninsula on August 14. More than 2,100 people have been killed and 10,000 others injured to date.
The quake was followed by Tropical Storm Grace, which caused flooding in areas affected by the quake. According to the authorities, around 600,000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
During her mission, Ms. Mohammed met with affected communities in the earthquake-damaged town of Les Cayes.
“I saw once again the incredible resilience of the Haitian people who have suffered so much and who are now mobilized to support their neighbors and communities in the aftermath of the earthquake. she said.
She added: “We are here in solidarity with Haiti and are impressed by the incredible work that national authorities and United Nations agencies are doing to help in these difficult times,” she said.
Words of encouragement
On her arrival last night, Ms. Mohammed met Prime Minister Ariel Henry and reiterated the UN’s support for the ailing government.
Accompanied by Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), they also met the United Nations country team, as well as members of civil society.
They visited the South department, which was particularly affected by the earthquake, met the people affected in Les Cayes and visited the Immaculée Conception hospital.
The deputy head of the United Nations addressed words of encouragement to national and international staff working alongside national institutions.
Solidarity, hope and lessons for the future
Ms. Mohammed said there were lessons to be learned from the 2010 earthquake to do things differently so Haiti can recover better. This, she stressed, “will require investing in long-term development and supporting government leadership.”
UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said: “What I saw on this visit is devastating – so much destruction and suffering. And yet, at the same time, I saw the solidarity and hope of the Haitian people in the face of such a tragedy.
He stressed: “Haiti needs our support at this critical time. The United Nations Development Program will do everything possible to support the Haitian people in this hour of need as well as in the ongoing recovery and reconstruction. ”
The UN on the ground
Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is on the ground, working with partners to provide emergency supplies, including medicine, clean water and tarpaulins, even as the floods and mudslides hamper relief efforts.
And the ECOSOC Ad Hoc Advisory Group expressed solidarity with the Haitian people and called on the international community to “remain collectively engaged” to address both immediate humanitarian needs and “long-term sustainable development”.
It only took “a few seconds”
Marianela González of the World Food Program (WFP) was in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake rocked southern Haiti.
She said that “it took a few seconds to realize what was really going on, but in those seconds hundreds of people had died.”
Even before the earthquake, WFP had supported more than 200,000 people who could not even afford a meal a day.
“The earthquake happened under the same people, the roof fell on the same people, and Tropical Storm Grace rained on the same people in Les Cayes, Jérémie and many other communities where the damage and needs were also visible. “, said the official of the WFP.
Another layer of crisis
Ms. González described the earthquake as “a layer of crisis on top of a much longer and deeper crisis in Haiti”.
Meanwhile, WFP continues to distribute hot meals to hospitals, cash and logistics capacity to support humanitarian and medical aid.
“It’s really hard to be here today and to go into these hospitals, to see people on the streets with no roof to sleep, especially children,” she said. “But we are there, and it is a privilege and a responsibility.”