UNITED NATIONS – Former United States President Bill Clinton has been assigned by the United Nations to manage the relief efforts in Haiti, according to Reuters. Clinton will try to coordinate the enormous amount of aid initiatives that have been generated since an earthquake tore through the country on Jan. 12, killing what is believed to be more than 200,000. The United Nations needed to find a leader after its mission chief, along with nearly 100 of its staff, died in the earthquake, which left a million homeless. After meeting U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who offered him the position, Clinton said he was “pleased to take on an expanded role in the recovery effort” and use relief efforts during previous natural disasters – like the 2004 Asian tsunami – as guidance. Ban “specifically asked President Clinton to assume a leadership role in coordinating international aid efforts from emergency response to the reconstruction of Haiti,” U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told Reuters. “There's an awful lot of goodwill out there, an unprecedented flow of aid and good intentions and cash, and the idea is to ensure that that comes together in the right way.”
Haiti’s Bellerive claims earthquake killed more than 200,000
Jean-Max Bellerive, the Haitian prime minister, said he believes the earthquake that devastated his country on Jan. 12 left “more than 200,000” dead. He said another 300,000 injured were being seen “in hospitals, in health centers and also in ambulatory care centers.” Bellerive said 4,000 people needed amputations and a million were made homeless by the earthquake that rocked the impoverished nation, according to the Haitian government’s statistics. “More than 250,000 houses have been destroyed,” he said before adding that 30,000 businesses also were destroyed by the natural disaster, according to Agence France-Presse. “In terms of figures, it is a disaster on a planetary scale. These are figures that are the most extreme of the last 20 or 30 years.”
Soccer organization CONCACAF to rebuild headquarters in Haiti
During a visit to Haiti earlier this week, Jack Warner, CONCACAF’s president proposed moving the headquarters of the Haitian Football Federation to the country’s Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Goal Project office in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Croix-des-Bouquets. FIFA, the sport’s governing body, already has pledged US$250,000 to the relief effort, according to The Associated Press. Warner said he will make a request to the Caribbean Football Union to provide room and board for Haitian soccer players for the next six to 12 months until the country is capable of managing its national soccer team program, according to the AP.
After slow start, relief effort in Haiti picking up speed
The mission to provide aid to Haiti, which was once slow, is starting to become much more efficient, especially in getting food to the hungry, John Holmes, the top U.N. relief official said earlier this week. It’s been a daunting task to provide shelter to about a million homeless, now the first priority since the search for missing persons have ceased, according to Holmes, the U.N.’s emergency relief coordinator. “We still have a significant way to go before reaching everybody who needs food, and on the shelter side as well,” he said at a press conference. But overall, the situation in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, once filled with pandemonium, has become calm, apart from “isolated incidents of looting or attacks on convoys of food,” Holmes said. “This is a potentially volatile environment and we have to make sure it doesn't degenerate from fights over food into more serious civil unrest.” The U.N. police and military force in Haiti, which is known as MINUSTAH, and the U.S. military are making sure food distribution points are safe, according to Reuters. The World Food Program (WFP), a U.N. agency, wants ultimately to have 16 food distribution points across the nation’s capital to provide two-week rations to 2 million during the next 10 days, Holmes told Reuters. “The delays we’ve seen in Haiti are all to do with logistics, the sheer difficulty of making things happen in a context like Haiti,” he told Reuters. “Shelter is top priority. We are getting material in and distributing it as fast as we possibly can.”