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U.N. Secretary-General Visits Haiti To Monitor International Aid Response

During his second visit to Haiti since the January earthquake, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “promised Haitians on Sunday that the world has not forgotten the quake-torn nation as it suffers from a shortage of shelter and growing violence in teeming camps for the homeless,” the Associated Press reports (Katz, 3/14).

“I wanted to see for myself the progress made in the past two months,” Ban said, Agence France-Presse reports. In a meeting, U.N. officials said security, especially for women and children, was a significant concern. “Ban thanked them, and urged them to ‘try to be more creative, more productive’ as they forged on,” according to the news service (3/14).

Ban, “who held talks with Haitian President Rene Preval and leaders of the international relief operation, said the world’s response to Haiti has so far been ‘extraordinarily generous,'” Reuters writes. Ban “noted the U.N.’s revised emergency appeal for $1.4 billion this year to fund continuing humanitarian assistance and reconstruction in Haiti was only 49 percent funded so far. ‘I assured President Preval and his ministers that I will continue my best personal efforts to fulfill the remainder, particularly for such underfunded programs as early recovery and agriculture,'” he said at a news conference (Delva/Hass, 3/15).

According to Ban, “for the foreseeable future, the government [of Haiti] will need international assistance simply to cover its payroll,” the AP writes. “Preval raised concerns that Haiti’s farmers would be hurt by continuing imports of food aid. Already, rice farmers have told The Associated Press they cannot sell their harvest because of rice handouts. ‘It was absolutely necessary that international aid arrive’ after the earthquake, Preval said, but ‘we are now in a new reality,'” according to the news service.

Upon visiting a “makeshift camp” where more than 45,000 earthquake survivor have been living, Ban noted that 60 percent of Haiti’s homeless have received plastic sheets or tents. “‘This is not enough,’ he admitted. ‘We are a little bit behind schedule but we are moving very quickly.’ He called for a ‘better structured’ and ‘much more efficient way’ of distributing emergency shelter,” according to AP (3/14).

In related news, the AP examines the progress in providing shelter for the homeless earthquake survivors two months after the quake struck. According to the news service, the Haitian “government has yet to relocate a single person, despite a pledge that people would be moving into resettlement areas by early February. Aid groups say they’re ready to build but don’t have the land. Government officials insist they are making progress on finding sites in closed-door negotiations with private landowners. But time is running out for 600,000 people living under tarps, tents or simply bed sheets as the rainy season has the makings of a second major crisis. Heavy rains typically start around April 1 and there already have been deadly floods to the west of the earthquake zone.”

The article looks at the efforts of individual aid groups and reports on the funding needed to provide shelter for earthquake survivors (Fox/Katz, 3/13).

In another article about the relief effort two months later, the Latin American Herald Tribune writes that although “Haiti has made some progress … full reconstruction still seems a long way off.”

“We have to do more and to do it better,” said Michel Chancy, who is leading food assistance efforts. According to Clancy, “programs for creating jobs in agriculture and rural infrastructure” to expand local production are the current priorities. The article features other quotes from Chancy, Haiti’s secretary of state for animal production (3/15).

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