The 192-member United Nations General Assembly and the 15-member Security Council observed a minute of silence today as they stood in solidarity with the countless earthquake victims in Haiti, with both bodies pledging support for international relief efforts.
Outside UN Headquarters in New York the Organization`s blue and white flag flew at half mast mourning the disaster`s victims, who included 16 UN peacekeepers known to have died and many others who remain unaccounted for.
The members of the Security Council highly commend Member States` efforts to assist in search-and-rescue efforts and urge the international community to continue such assistance as the Haitian people face the challenges of rescue, recovery and reconstruction in the months ahead, " the Council said in a press statement read by Ambassador Zhang Yesui of China, which holds the rotating presidency for January.
They express their strong support for the Government and the people of Haiti in the aftermath of this devastating earthquake, and their strong support for international efforts to assist Haiti during the immediate and critical rescue and recovery efforts of the coming days, " the statement added.
The General Assembly held an urgent informal plenary meeting attended by both Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former United States President Bill Clinton, who is the UN Special Envoy for Haiti.
The challenges are complex, the needs are great, " Mr. Ban told delegates. Both leaders appealed for immediate international aid, but stressed the need to send only priority items such as food and potable water facilities to avoid a logistical logjam.
Mr. Clinton stressed there is a great desire around the world to help the Haitian people and he encouraged people to donate money for the relief effort. The most important thing individuals can do, who care, is to send cash " even if it`s a dollar, or two dollars. "
Opening the session Ambassador Michel Tommo Monthe of Cameroon, the Assembly`s Acting President, called the disaster a tragedy of immense proportions " with grave humanitarian consequences.
The situation is overwhelming, " he said. Haiti is neither equipped nor does it have the resources to meet the challenge. It requires the full support and concerted action by the entire international community. The United Nations and other actors are already in motion. We need to mobilize all our resources and to coordinate all our efforts to help the people of Haiti in the most urgent and effective manner. "
After Mr. Ban and Mr. Clinton made brief speeches, delegates from Member State after Member State rose to express their condolences and pledge their support for efforts to help the Haitian people overcome this latest natural disaster to hit their homeland following last year`s devastating floods and hurricanes.
In a statement issued by his spokesman, Assembly President Ali Treki called on all Member States to deploy all possible efforts to urgently assist the people of Haiti " in their moment of need.
He further urged the institutions of the UN system and the entire international community to remain fully engaged in support of the Haitian people in this tragedy. "