Survivors of Haiti's earthquake protest to demand food at a makeshift camp in Port-au-Prince on February 3 2010. The aid operation in Haiti has been complicated and frustratingly slow, but is making significant progress, particularly in getting food to quake survivors, the top UN relief official said on February 2.
Across the world, enormous sums of money are being raised by governments, humanitarian organisations, small-scale charities and individuals to help earthquake-devastated Haiti – but there are continuing concerns about how effectively the money will be used, about the co-ordination of efforts, and there are media reports of corruption by local officials.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on February 3 2010 asked former United States President Bill Clinton, already deeply involved in Haiti before the January 12 earthquake as United Nations Special Envoy to the country, to assume a leadership role in co-ordinating international quake relief, from emergency response to reconstruction to launching a new funding appeal.
"Needless to say, he has hit the ground running; he will be in Haiti on Friday," Ban told journalists after he briefed the Security Council, the UN News Service said.
"In particular, he will provide strategic guidance in our work for Haiti’s early recovery and long-term reconstruction, with a special emphasis on mobilising international support and donor funding."
International efforts to help the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere after the quake, in which up to 200 000 people died, many others were injured and two million left in need of aid, have faced a series of daunting challenges compounded by the enormity of the catastrophe and the lack of infrastructure in providing sufficient food, shelter and other requirements.
Ban and Clinton met at UN Headquarters in New York on February 3 and agreed that one of the most urgent needs right now is shelter with the storm season just months away.
"Important as they are, tents alone will not suffice," Ban said.
"In meeting this and other needs, we agreed that we must move as urgently as possible to develop a clear strategy that mobilises all UN agencies and their partners, including national governments, NGOs and the private sector," he said.
Clinton will work together with UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark and Ban’s Special Representative Edmond Mulet.
Ban asked Clinton to launch a revised flash appeal on February 17 2010 to carry the humanitarian effort for the entire year.
The original appeal launched on January 15 sought $562 million, with the bulk going to immediate needs, including food, water and shelter.
Overall the situation in Haiti is largely calm, Ban said.
"Food distribution is growing smoother by the day, and we have now reached about one million people. Banks, markets and schools are beginning to re-open," he added.
In Rome, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Josette Sheeran thanked the world for generosity and compassion for the people of Haiti, with donors - ranging from governments to companies and even internet gamers - raising almost $230 million in cash and donating valuable goods and services, a WFP media statement said.
"The world has saved many lives in Haiti through an enormously generous and fast response to WFP's food and logistics appeal," Sheeran was quoted in the media statement as saying. "The humanitarian lifeline is now reaching millions of destitute women and children in Haiti. We are very grateful."
WFP's emergency operation has now been extended until the end of 2010 and is likely to cost more than $800 million, more than double the initial budget.
The US government is the largest donor to date, having given $78 million and four million ready-to-eat meals.
The Canadian government has made a contribution of $38 million, Spain has offered $22 million, Japan $9 million and Germany almost $6 million, with Australia, France, Sweden and the UK, all contributing about $3 million.
Contributions announced to WFP's Haiti operation also include Norway ($1.7 million); the European Commission ($1.5 million); Finland ($1.5 million); Netherlands ($1.4 million); Switzerland ($970 873); Italy($945 597); New Zealand ($734 520); China ($500,000); Republic of Korea ($500 000); Ireland ($432 900); Greece ($288 600); Luxembourg ($288 600); Poland ($200 000); Brazil ($135 730); Romania ($72 150); Iceland ($56 000); Colombia ($50 000).
Several African governments, from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Namibia, have donated collectively several million dollars to Haiti. In South Africa, religious organisations and individual charities have raised large sums and an appeal by the country’s public broadcaster raised several hundred thousand euro; the country has also sent rescue teams and large quantities of medical supplies.
Bulgarians, through separate charity and humanitarian initiatives, have donated more than 500 000 euro and the country has sent a military medical team to Haiti. The Bulgarian Red Cross initiative to raise funds for Haiti, through SMSes to the number 1255 and to a special bank account, continues until February 15 2010.
On February 4, the Journal of Turkish Weekly quoted the foreign ministry in Ankara as saying that Osman Ulukan, co-ordinator for relations with Latin American countries, had left for quake-devastated Haiti.
"Ulukan will hand over Turkey's financial aid of $1 million to president Rene Preval of Haiti. He offered Turkish people's condolences to those who lost their beloved ones in the quake disaster," the Turkish foreign ministry was quoted as saying.
However, on February 4 euronews reported in Port-au-Prince, desperate residents had held a protest, saying that corrupt officials were demanding money for international aid.
Speaking to reporters, one woman accused her local mayor of charging 50 Haitian dollars for rice, which he had taken to a warehouse.
Meanwhile, CNN reported, while aid groups have been delivering water, food and hygiene items to quake-devastated Haitians, few of those affected by the earthquake had received counselling for bearing witness to horror.
"Among them, tens of thousands of children - some already impoverished and vulnerable - who now must live with the added burden of terrible memories," CNN said.
Counsellors from Israeli aid agency Natan I-Relief have been training the young teachers in the badly-damaged neighbourhood of Sainte Marie, who themselves suffered in the earthquake, on how to cope with their experiences, according to the report.