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UN committed to helping Haiti build better future, says Guterres, marking 10-year anniversary of devastating earthquake

  • 12 January 2020 |

On 12 January 2010, a 7.0 magnitude quake struck Haiti, devastating its capital, Port-au-Prince. About 220,000 people were reportedly killed, among them, 102 UN staff who lost their lives when the building housing the stabilization mission there, known as MINUSTAH, collapsed. Some 300,000 people were injured and 1.5 million become homeless during the 35-second-long tremor.

Marking the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy, Secretary General António Guterres renewed the commitment of the United Nations to helping the country and its people build a better future. 

“On this day, we remember the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who lost their lives and the millions gravely affected by the devastating earthquake that struck their country ten years ago,” Mr. Guterres said in a video statement, also honouring the memory of the UN colleagues lost on that same day. 

“My heart goes out to all those who lost family, friends and loved ones., the Secretary-General Said, adding: “I will never forget the shock and sadness across the United Nations as we became aware of the scale of the tragedy.”   

The UN chief said that over the past decade, Haiti has drawn on the resilience of its people and the support of its many friends to overcome this disaster. 

“With the continued support of the international community, Haiti is striving to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including through strengthening the institutions that are so crucial to the wellbeing and prosperity of its people,” Mr. Guterres said. 

Sombre Commemorations


On Friday, UN Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters that in Port-au-Prince on Sunday, all UN staff have been invited to attend a commemorative ceremony to be held at the site of the Christopher Hotel, which housed the UN peacekeeping mission’s headquarters, and which collapsed during the earthquake.

Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenča will be the senior official from New York representing the UN at this ceremony and other commemorative events organized by the Haitian Government.

Next week, there will be several other events to mark the anniversary.

On Monday, in Tunis, the UN will inaugurate the Hedi Annabi Hall, honouring the memory of the head of the UN peacekeeping mission, Hedi Annabi, who died in the collapse of the Christopher Hotel. Mr. Annabi was also a long-time Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations in New York.

And in Geneva, on Wednesday, there will be another commemoration at the Palais des Nations, with, among other participants, Haiti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

And lastly, on Friday next week, 17 January, the Secretary-General will take part in a ceremony here which will include representatives of the countries who lost [citizens] their lives in the earthquake.

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Message on the 10th anniversary of Haiti earthquake

  • 10 January 2020 |

On this day, we remember the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who lost their lives and the millions gravely affected by the devastating earthquake that struck their country ten years ago.

We also honour the memory of one hundred and two United Nations colleagues lost that same day.

I will never forget the shock and sadness across the United Nations as we became aware of the scale of the tragedy. 

My heart goes out to all those who lost family, friends and loved ones. 

Over the past decade, Haiti has drawn on the resilience of its people and the support of its many friends to overcome this disaster.

With the continued support of the international community, Haiti is striving to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including through strengthening the institutions that are so crucial to the wellbeing and prosperity of its people.

On this day, I renew the commitment of the United Nations to helping Haiti and its people build a brighter future.

Thank you.

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'All actors' must lend support as humanitarian crisis continues in Haiti, UN rights chief urges

  • 01 November 2019 |

Expressing deep concern for the impact on human rights of ongoing political unrest in Haiti, the UN rights chief on Friday called on all actors to acknowledge the grievances of Haitians, many of whom have been demanding the president step down amidst violent demonstrations which ignited a sprawling emergency in recent weeks.

Haitians have taken to the streets repeatedly in the past 16 months, to protest corruption, inequality and economic hardship. Since the latest demonstrations began on 15 September, sweeping the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, 42 people have died, and 86 have been injured in escalated tensions, Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights said, in a statement from her Office (OHCHR).  

“We are deeply concerned about the protracted crisis in Haiti, and its impact on the ability of Haitians to access their basic rights to healthcare, food, education and other needs” said Ms. Bachelet.  

The political and humanitarian crisis stems from the struggle between President Jovenel Moïse and a surging opposition movement, which coupled with economic struggle and corruption have led to soaring prices of basic goods, crumbling healthcare facilities, and pushed the country to the brink of collapse. 

According to news reports, President Moïse has said he has no intention of leaving office. 

The majority of victims suffered gunshot wounds, according to information received by (OHCHR), with 19 deaths at the hands of security forces, and others by armed demonstrators or unknown perpetrators. Among those killed, at least one was a journalist; nine other reporters have been injured, and many have reportedly been threatened. Ms. Bachelet urged all actors to refrain from targeting journalists and respect the freedom of the media to do its job.  

Children are missing school, while road blockades and violence have kept people from accessing sufficient food, drinking water, medicine and fuel, and the health sector “has been hit particularly hard, with shortage of electricity, fuel, supplies and the inability of many medical personnel to reach their places of work”.  

The turmoil has also prompted closure of judicial institutions and other public entities, resulting in an “alarmingly high number” of inmates stuck in prolonged pre-trial detention.  

Ms. Bachelet welcomed the launching of investigations by the General Inspectorate of the Haitian National Police into allegations of human rights violations by authorities, and stressed the need for investigators’ “thorough, transparent and independent” work, “with a view to ensuring accountability, justice and truth for victims and their families – including through judicial action.” 

After 15 years, the UN’s peacekeeping operations came to a close earlier this month. However, Secretary-General António Guterres promised “continuous commitment” through the new UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINHUH).  

The Office, which began operations on 16 October, serves in an advisory capacity, supporting Haitian authorities in and effort to bring about lasting peace and stability, as well as the benefits of the globally-agreed 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.  

Measures of support taken by all actors “is crucial” to resolving Haiti’s meltdown, Ms. Bachelet maintained. “We stand ready to support attempts at meaningful and inclusive resolution to the current situation and alleviate the suffering of the people of Haiti.” 

 

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UN Mission in Haiti calls on protestors, authorities, to refrain from violence

  • 30 September 2019 |

Following days of intensifying protests in Haiti, Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said on Monday the UN was “concerned by reports of violence and arson” across the country.

At the daily press briefing in New York, he told reporters that the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti, known by its acronym MINUJUSTH, was calling on everyone to “refrain from the use of violence”.

According to news reports, a deepening economic crisis along with chronic food and fuel shortages has seen thousands take to the streets, demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse.

Opposition leaders called for a nationwide day of resistance to the Government, reportedly urging supporters to take the streets, after a demonstration on Friday when several homes and businesses were set on fire, with police firing tear gas at protesters. Several have died during clashes in the past few weeks.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Bocchit Edmond, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Haiti, told the General Assembly, that the President was making efforts to pursue a Haitian national dialogue towards resolving the crisis.

However, he cautioned that “Haiti will not be able to recover without substantial, sustained, sustainable, coherent, well-coordinated and effective support from the international community.”

While praising the work of the Haitian National Police, which “has done its utmost to provide security to the Haitian people, state institutions and private property”, the UN peacekeeping mission continues to closely follow recent developments.

At the same time, MINUJUSTH and international partners are in discussions with local participants to find a peaceful way out of the situation and alleviate the suffering of the population, which Mr. Dujarric said, “has been bearing the brunt of this crisis”.

UN presence in transition

Back in June, the Security Council approved a resolution to create a UN “Integrated Office” in Haiti to support the country’s government in strengthening political stability and good governance.

It will be run by a Special Representative, who will assist the government with planning elections; human rights training for Haitian national police; responding to gang violence; ensuring compliance with international human rights obligations; improving prison oversight; and strengthening the justice sector.

Using the French acronym BINUH (Bureau Intégré des Nations Unies en Haïti) the Office will replace MINUJUSTH on 16 October, putting an end to 15 years of peacekeeping presence in the country.

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Noon briefing

  • 11 February 2019 |

Deputy Secretary-General at World Government Summit

Over the weekend, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, spoke at the World Government Summit in Dubai.
She said that in this fourth year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the world must accelerate its work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. While there has been progress in many countries, it has not happened fast enough, and the world remains on a trajectory of increasing inequality.
“It is up to us to bring back the trust and demonstrate that global institutions can meet global challenges and meet people’s expectations,” she said adding that “we must all keep pushing the boundaries of transformation.”
While in Dubai, Ms. Mohammed also spoke at an SDGs in Action event, and met with senior government officials on climate change, the Sustainable Development Goals and the forthcoming World Expo 2020.

Security Council

Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, briefed the Security Council today on the threats posed by Da’esh. He said that the group remains a threat as a global organization with centralized leadership, despite a fall in international attacks and plots in 2018. This threat, he said, is increased by returning, relocating or released foreign terrorist fighters.
Mr. Voronkov said that Da’esh is reported to control between 14,000 and 18,000 militants, including up to 3,000 foreign terrorist fighters, in Iraq and Syria.  He added that the group has continued to evolve into a covert network operating at the local level and organizing itself at the provincial level, with a reported intent to undermine any form of stabilization on the ground.
Michele Coninsx, the Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), told the Council that Da’esh has retained its global intent and global networks. It remains one of the international terrorist groups most likely to carry out a large-scale, complex attack in the future.

Haiti

On Haiti, the Core Group has called on the Haitian society actors, and primarily the country's leaders, to engage in a constructive and inclusive dialogue in order to identify and implement realistic and lasting solutions to the political and economic crisis currently occurring in the country.
This follows a day of protest in Haiti last Thursday. The Core Group has taken note of the demands expressed by the demonstrators. It also deplores the loss of life and property damage caused by the acts of violence that took place on the margins of the rallies, while acknowledging the professionalism demonstrated by the Haitian National Police as a whole.

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UN stands ready to support Haiti after quake on 6 October

  • 07 October 2018 |

In the wake of the 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck north-west Haiti overnight, Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday extended condolence to the island nations’ people and Government, and said the United Nations stands ready to help with the response.

“The Secretary-General is saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life and injuries caused by the earthquake in north-west Haiti on 6 October,” said a statement issued by Mr. Guterres’ spokesperson.

The quake, which, according to press reports, struck overnight Saturday near Port-de-Paix, off Haiti's northern coast, has left at least 11 people dead and more than 100 wounded.

Tremors were reportedly felt in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as in neighboring Dominican Republic and in eastern Cuba.

In today’s statement, the UN chief extended his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of Haiti.

“The United Nations stands ready to support the Government of Haiti in the response efforts,” the statement concluded.

This is the strongest earthquake to hit Haiti since 2010, when the tiny island nation was devastated by a 7.3 magnitude temblor, which affected some three million people overall.


 pie chart Addiitional informaton from Relief Web

- a service of UN Office for the Coordiantion of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA)

image credit: Relief Web

  • A 5.9 magnitude (11 km depth) earthquake struck off the Northwestern coast of Haiti on 7 October at 00:11 UTC. The epicentre of the earthquake was located about 19 km Northwest of the city of Port-de-Paix. The earthquake was felt across the country. There was no tsunami warning in effect.
  • According to the Haitian Civil Protection Agency, 10 people have been killed and at least 135 people injured. The Agency also reports that some houses and buildings have been destroyed in Port-de-Paix, Gros Morne, Chansolme and Turtle Island.
  • Haiti’s Prime Minister informed that a crisis cabinet has been created to coordinate the emergency response to the earthquake.
  • DG ECHO’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre is closely monitoring the situation and liaising with DG ECHO offices in the region. A DG ECHO technical expert from the Haiti office is being deployed to the affected areas and a second technical expert form DG ECHO Bogota is ready to be deployed for further support.
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Haiti: UN agricultural development fund supports hurricane-affected farmers with $11 million

  • 03 August 2018 |

With many rural areas in Haiti still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) announced on Thursday that it is investing $10.8 million help restore agricultural productivity in some the worst affected areas of the island nation.

The funds will be distributed through the Agricultural and Agroforestry Technological Innovation Programme, known by its French acronym PITAG, extending its reach to eight additional municipalities in Haiti’s South Department, and spreading sustainable agricultural practices and technologies.

"Haiti's rural population suffers from a vicious circle of low agricultural productivity, high environmental degradation and poor nutrition,” said Lars Anwandter, who leads IFAD's programme in Haiti.

Weak agricultural practices in Haiti have been compounded by a series of natural disasters. The most recent, Hurricane Matthew, which struck the south-western part of the tiny island nation on 4 October 2016, left 2.1 million people severely affected, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

As of February 2018, some 622,100 are reportedly still in need of food security assistance.

While the situation in Haiti has improved since the hurricane hit, deep-seated vulnerabilities persist. Over the past few decades, Haiti has seen its soils, water reservoirs and woods severely degraded. World Bank data shows that 59 per cent of the total population lives below the poverty line and the figure rises to 75 per cent in rural areas.

Today, Haiti produces only 45 per cent of the food that Haitians need.

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 Learn more about the UN in Haiti |  More stories on Haiti

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UN eyes transition of Haiti role from peacekeeping to development

  • 05 April 2018 |

“While achieving results should remain our common priority, we have already started to prepare for a transition to a non-peacekeeping presence, based on lessons learned in Haiti and in other contexts,”

the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, told the Security Council.

He said that in the coming months, his office will provide progress assessments to allow the 15-member body to take well-informed decisions for the drawdown and eventual withdrawal of the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH).

Established in October last year, MINUJUSTH replaced UN Stabilization Mission, which operated in the tiny island nation for 13 years.

Much smaller than its predecessor, which had more than 4,000 military and police personnel, MINUJUSTH assists Haiti to further develop national police, strengthen rule of law institutions and promote and protect human rights.

While the Security Council is expected to renew MINUJUSTH, whose initial mandate expires on 15 April 2018, Mr. Lacroix said the UN is determined to ensure it be the last peacekeeping operation deployed to Haiti.

Last month, UN released a strategic assessment of MINUJUSTH, including 11 benchmarks for a smooth transition to a non-peacekeeping presence by the last quarter of 2019.

“Haiti has come a long way to achieve the relative political and security stability it is now enjoying, but persistent economic uncertainties, which can result in social exclusion, particularly of youth and the most vulnerable, may undermine this progress,” said Mr. Lacroix.

In mid March, he visited Haiti for the first time since taking office a year ago.

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Haiti: UN determined to support authorities in strengthening rule of law

  • 19 February 2018 |

Ms. Keita, who took up her post last September, traveled to Haiti from 5 to 9 February to support the efforts of the new UN Mission for the Support of Justice in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), to discuss the Mission’s mandate with the Haitian Government and other partners, and to ensure that human rights are at the heart of the country’s sustainable development agenda.

Established in October 2017, MINUJUSTH succeeded a previous UN peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSTAH, with a smaller mandate from the Security Council, focused on helping the Haitian Government strengthen its rule-of-law institutions.

In an interview with UN News, Ms. Keita said that the Security Council has given the Mission a brief two-year timeframe, starting in April 2018, to help Haiti overcome “systemic problems” and “to ensure that fundamental progress is taking place in the justice sector, the judiciary, security and human rights.” She added that all interlocutors in Haiti agreed that the judiciary was the weakest of the three branches of Government.

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Haiti: New UN mission to take innovative approach to strengthening rule of law

  • 04 January 2018 |

The head of the new United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti, known as MINUJUSTH, has said the operation will carry out its work in an innovative in the island nation – complete with an unusually tight timeframe and a bench-marking exit strategy.

Describing what is unique about the mission, the Special Representative and Head of MINUJUSTH, Susan Page, underscored that it focusses “exclusively on the rule of law.”“The new mandate by the [UN] Security Council is to work with the Government of Haiti to strengthen its rule of law intuitions. It's also to continue to support the HNP, the Haitian National Police, and to work on justice and human rights – and that includes human rights reporting, monitoring and analysis,” she told UN News.MINUJUSTH is also unique in that its mandate calls for a benchmarking exit strategy.“Within two years, we can figure out how we [will exit the country] but with benchmarks for progress that can be measured,” she stressed.

“Within two years, we can figure out how we will, but with benchmarks for progress that can be measured,” 

Susan Page
Special Representative/ Head of Mission. MINUJUSTH

The mission head stated that the country team created a framework with a focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which, along with SDG 16 – to promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies – is working in conjunction with the Haitian Government.

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