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UN chief Ban Ki-moon calls for $562 million in aid from donors

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UN chief Ban Ki-moon is set to arrive in Haiti Sunday in a show of solidarity after calling for 562 million dollars to be raised to aid the quake-hit nation where more than 50,000 have been killed.


AFP - UN chief Ban Ki-moon was to visit devastated Haiti Sunday as the world body on Friday appealed for 562 million dollars from donors to assist victims of the earthquake thought to have killed more than 50,000 people.

Ban was to make a lightning one-day visit to the battered Haitian capital Port-au-Prince to show solidarity with the Haitian people and local UN staff.

More than 50,000 people were killed and 250,000 injured by Tuesday's 7.0 quake, which also left nearly 1.5 million homeless, Haitian Public Health Minister Alex Larsen said.

According to UN officials, an estimated 300,000 people have been left homeless, with one in 10 homes in the capital destroyed.

The UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has also been hit hard by the quake, with 37 of its 12,000 employees confirmed dead and 330 unaccounted for.

Among those listed as still missing are MINUSTAH's civilian head Hedi Annabi of Tunisia and his Brazilian deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa.

Haitian President Rene Preval said Wednesday that Annabi was killed but the UN said it could not confirm this.


Ban's trip was announced shortly after UN humanitarian chief John Holmes formally launched a flash appeal for 562 million dollars in emergency funds for a period of six months during a meeting with member states.

Holmes said the appeal was based on the assumption that "three million people are badly affected enough to need immediate aid and to need aid for a period of six months."

Holmes, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the biggest chunk of the request -- 246 million dollars -- would go for food aid.

An estimated two million people in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, need immediate food aid and initial assessments show there are no food supplies at present and normal distribution mechanisms are paralyzed, UN officials said.

Some 59 million dollars are to be earmarked for badly needed water and sanitation, Holmes noted, with the rest to be allocated for health and medical supplies, tents and blankets, logistics and education.

Ban said a major humanitarian effort was now under way, with the UN system mobilizing all its resources "as fast as we possibly can."

Ban said the UN has set up an operations center at Port-au-Prince airport that -- despite damage to the control tower -- coordinates the search and rescue efforts of 27 teams arriving from countries around the world.

He said priority was still being given to search and rescue, with an urgent need for heavy lifting equipment.

"Preliminary estimates from our UN emergency teams show widespread damage to infrastructure in Port-au-Prince and other affected areas, with as many as 50 percent of buildings in the worst-hit areas damaged or destroyed," the UN boss said.

He said a high proportion of the Haitian capital's three million people were without access to food, water, shelter and electricity.

UN officials said the World Food Program was now feeding around 8,000 people several times a day and hopes to feed roughly one million people within 15 days and two million people within a month.

Edmond Mulet, a top UN peacekeeping official sent to Haiti to take charge of the decapitated UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in an interim capacity, met with Haitian President Rene Preval and his prime minister Thursday to discuss priority needs.

Ban said he was sending another senior UN official, Tony Banbury, to serve as Mulet's main deputy.


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