U.N.’s Ban to return to earthquake-devastated Haiti

Reuters reports that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Haiti tomorrow to meet the country’s leaders and people left homeless by a January earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands, Ban’s spokesman said. The U.N.’s Port-au-Prince headquarters collapsed along with thousands of other buildings in the magnitude 7.0 quake on January 12, and its mission chief in Haiti, Hedi Annabi, died.

Ban, who earlier this week sobbed during a memorial service for the 101 U.N. personnel who died in the quake, will visit the capital Port-au-Prince and meet with Haitian President René Préval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said on Friday.

He will also meet with leaders of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH.

The one-day trip will be Ban’s second to the impoverished Caribbean nation since the quake devastated the capital Port-au-Prince and demolished MINUSTAH’s headquarters in the worst loss of life in a single incident in the United Nations’ 65-year history.

Former U.N. special representative to Haiti Edmond Mulet was sent to Haiti to assume control of the U.N. police and military force after Annabi’s death. “The Secretary General will also visit a camp for internally displaced persons and engage directly with Haitians still suffering the debilitating consequences of the earthquake,” Nesirky said.

The U.N. force in Haiti was boosted in January when the Security Council unanimously agreed to increase the number by 3,500 to 12,651. It has a mandate to provide security in Haiti and is taking over humanitarian relief as U.S. and other foreign troops depart. Mulet said earlier this week it would probably be impossible to know exactly how many people died, but he believed the toll was not less than 220,000 or 230,000. The United Nations has been raising cash to provide support to the country’s reconstruction but has struggled to raise the necessary funds, U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said on Thursday.

The United Nations launched an emergency appeal for $562 million from member-nations days after the quake, nearly half of which was to be spent on food. A revised appeal was launched in February to raise a total of $1.4 billion in order to continue to finance emergency relief and fund recovery and reconstruction work. There will be a high-level donor’s conference for Haiti in New York at the end of this month.

For the original report go to http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62B3UN20100312

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