Haiti: UN official sees progress

18 December, 2013
Nov 2013, Haiti: Aid workers from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) run a health and hygiene briefing session in Haiti. Despite a significant decrease in the overall number of cholera-related deaths, Haiti still hosts half of the world’s suspected cholera cases. Credit: OCHA/Nancy Palus
Nov 2013, Haiti: Aid workers from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) run a health and hygiene briefing session in Haiti. Despite a significant decrease in the overall number of cholera-related deaths, Haiti still hosts half of the world’s suspected cholera cases. Credit: OCHA/Nancy Palus

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti, Peter de Clercq, has highlighted the “remarkable progress” that has been made by the Haitian Government, Haitian civil society and the international humanitarian community in addressing vulnerability in the Caribbean country.

“We have to recognize the remarkable progress made since the earthquake,” said Mr. de Clercq at a press briefing in Geneva on 17 December. “There is an end in sight to the suffering, the losses, and the destruction; to the massive displacement that followed the earthquake and to the cholera outbreak.”

The 2010 earthquake left more than 10 per cent of all Haitians living in camps scattered across the capital Port-au-Prince. Today, 89 per cent of those displaced have left these settlements. The incidence of cholera has been reduced by over 50 per cent since the outbreak began in late 2010, and severe food insecurity has been brought down from 1.5 million affected people in early 2013 to 600,000 in October 2013.

These facts indicate clear progress, said Mr. de Clercq, and speak to the growing capacity of the Haitian authorities to coordinate and manage emergency preparedness and response.

Critical needs and acute vulnerabilities remain

However, Mr. de Clercq warned that significant needs remain and he called on donors to continue their support.

“We have to remain on alert,” he said. “We realize that we are in a difficult global financial environment and that major crises are happening elsewhere in the world. Yet we cannot afford ignoring the humanitarian situation in Haiti.”

Haiti is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world in terms of natural disasters and climate change and an estimated 817,000 Haitians are still in need of humanitarian assistance. Many experience severe food insecurity or malnutrition, live in deteriorating living conditions in the remaining 300 camps (where they are also at high risk of being forcibly evicted), or are affected by cholera.

Despite a significant decrease in the overall number of cholera-related deaths, Haiti still hosts half of the world’s suspected cholera cases.

2014 Humanitarian Action Plan

The 2014 Humanitarian Action Plan, which was launched on 16 December as part of the Global Humanitarian Response calls for US$169 million to support almost 400,000 people.

This includes support to the 145,000 people still living in camps.

“Displacement in Haiti could be ended in 2014 if the resources to do so are offered,” Mr. de Clercq said. “A similar situation applies to the cholera outbreak […] Solutions are in our hands. If we do not pursue our efforts to combat the disease there is a risk it will continue to ravage the country.”

The humanitarian community remains determined to continue working with Haitian authorities and national civil society organizations to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable, said Mr. de Clercq.

“We call on donors and humanitarian partners to continue their support to Haiti and its people.”

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