Friday, January 15, 2010

UN delivers aid in Haiti

Updated on : Friday, January 15, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE: The United Nations delivered food and essentials in Haiti on Thursday, just days after dozens of its personnel were killed in Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti, the worst loss of life the world body has ever suffered in a single incident.

More than 48 hours after the disaster, tens of thousands of people clamored for food and water and help digging out relatives still missing under the rubble.

The Haitian Red Cross said it believed 45,000 to 50,000 people had died and 3 million more -- one third of Haiti's population -- were hurt or left homeless by the major 7.0 magnitude quake that hit its impoverished capital on Tuesday.

The quake flattened buildings across entire hillsides and many people were still trapped alive in the rubble after two days, with little sign of organized rescue efforts.

U.N. peacekeepers stood by as aid workers delivered food to hundreds of people waiting in long lines.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said earlier that around 150 U.N. staff remained unaccounted for. He added that he had no news about the fate of the head of the peacekeeping mission in Haiti, Hedi Annabi of Tunisia.

Haitian President Rene Preval said on Wednesday that Annabi was dead. But U.N. officials later cast doubt on his remarks, saying they had no information to confirm it.

The U.N. force, which includes about 9,000 troops and police from more than 40 countries, was sent to the country in 2004 to try to bring stability after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted by armed gangs and former soldiers.

It has supported efforts to bring democracy to Haiti, run programs to disarm militant groups and helped the Haitian police. Haiti has been run by President Rene Preval since May 2006, when it returned to constitutional rule.

U.N. humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes said the world body's operations in Haiti "have been very badly affected" by the earthquake and the loss of some of its key personnel, and it was urgently trying to reinforce its ranks.

Tens of thousands of people are feared dead and many are believed still trapped alive in rubble after the 7.0 magnitude quake hit the capital of the Caribbean nation on Tuesday.

Holmes said he would launch an appeal on Friday for emergency funds for Haiti, although he did not say how much he would request.

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