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Published:March 13th, 2010 13:49 EST
united nations

UN Chief Ban To Visit Haiti On Sunday

By SOP newswire3

12 March 2010 " Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will make a one-day visit to Haiti on Sunday, his second to the Caribbean country since the 12 January earthquake, his spokesperson announced today.

united nationsWhile in the capital, Port-au-Prince, Mr. Ban will meet with President René Préval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, as well as with the leadership of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and UN agencies working on the ground, Martin Nesirky told reporters.

The Secretary-General will also visit a camp housing some of the estimated 1.2 million people displaced by the 7.0-magnitude quake.

Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has announced that the $1.44 billion revised humanitarian appeal for Haiti is only 49 per cent funded.

Two months after the earthquake, the humanitarian work is picking up speed, OCHA noted, with more than 4.3 million people having received food assistance, 1.2 million people receiving daily water distributions, and more than 300,000 children and adults vaccinated against a range of infectious diseases, including measles, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.

Despite the progress made, emergency shelter and sanitation remain the main priorities ahead of the rainy season. Emergency shelter materials have been distributed to more than 650,000 people who comprise about 56 per cent of those left homeless by the quake.

Preparations are now starting on two sites identified by the Government for the relocation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from high-risk settlement sites. The first site for relocation will have its official inauguration tomorrow.

Planning for longer-term shelter has brought on a new challenge. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Haiti is deforested and the necessary timber to create transitional shelter for up to 500,000 people for two years will have to be imported with support from the international community.

On sanitation, 3,673 latrines of the required 13,000 latrines have been installed, but there are space problems due to debris in the streets, according to the UN Children`s Fund (UNICEF), which is leading the sanitation effort.

Millions of tons of debris from fallen buildings " not just concrete, but plastic, metal and clothing " need to be cleared.

The traditional system of separating trash by hand in Haiti has raised concerns about contamination from healthcare waste given the burst in medical activity. It is estimated that the volume of healthcare waste had tripled, " Andrew Morton, UNEP Programme Manager in Haiti, told a news conference in Geneva.

UNEP has brought in a large number of containers for segregation of waste, and purchased additional fuel for trash incineration.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned about the increased risk of water-borne diseases with the upcoming start of the rainy season. Malaria cases had already started to increase, WHO spokesperson Paul Garwood told the same briefing.

Aid officials are also concerned about an expected increase in malnourished children due to the current living conditions and the start of the rainy season.

An estimated 500,000 children under five year of age and approximately 200,000 pregnant women or with infants had been affected by the earthquake, according to UNICEF.

The agency is working with WHO and other partners to send mobile psychosocial teams to speak with families in settlements throughout the region. The therapeutic activities include the traditional Haitian concept of lakou, " a place where families gather and chat.

Comprehensive psychosocial first aid is expected for some 150,000 individuals and follow-up counselling for up to 10,000 distressed individuals over the next five months.

In addition to counselling, aid officials hope that going to school will help normalize the lives of some children. Some 1,400 tents are being set up for approximately 200,000 children to start attending school in a shift system starting on 1 April.