UN appeals to world for US$1.44 bln for Haiti

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN special envoy, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, on Thursday appealed to the world for 1.44 billion U.S. dollars to render humanitarian and early recovery assistance to the quake-hit Haiti.

The figure, the largest ever natural disaster appeal by the world body, will be used to help some three million people badly affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake, totaling 30 percent of the population in the small Caribben country.

Ban, who was with Clinton, made the remarks at the launch of revised Haiti Flash Appeal at the UN Headquarters in New York.

"Today, we are appealing to the international community for 1.4 billion dollars in humanitarian and early recovery assistance over the coming full year."

The amount, which will run from January to December 2010, updated an earlier flash appeal of 577 million, which was launched just three days after the quake, which claimed more than 200,000 lives.

"I am pleased to report that the 570-million-dollar Flash Appeal launched on Jan. 15 was 100 percent funded, with more than 41 million dollars pledged beyond that," Ban said. "To carry our work forward, however, we must again reach deeply into our hearts and resources, with solidarity and compassion."

More than 1.2 million people are in need of emergency shelter and require urgent sanitation and hygiene assistance. At least two million require food assistance. In addition, host families and communities are bearing much of the burden of supporting displaced people who fled the worst affected cities, and also need help.

"Over the next six weeks, we will deliver a further 30,000 tents and enough water-proof sheeting for 1 million people," Ban said. "We are also laying plans to build more substantial community shelters that can better withstand tropical storms."

The appeal seeks funding for the following main sectors: agriculture: camp coordination and management; coordination and support services; early recovery; education; emergency shelter and non-food items; emergency telecommunications; food aid; logistics; nutrition; protection; and water, sanitation and hygiene. About one-third of the 1.44 billion (or 480 million U.S. dollars) is required food.

"The overall security situation in Haiti remains calm," Ban said. "As you all know, the rainy season will soon be upon us. That puts a premium on shelter, sanitation and health."

For his part, the Haitian UN ambassador, Leo Merores, said, " Much more needs to be done," and "the need for tents, shelter has become extremely urgent."

Clinton said, "A lot of good work is being done. There is a plan in place that will be amended. the money will be spent in a transparent way."

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