UN should play leading, coordinating role in quake-hit Haiti

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The United Nations should play a leading and coordinating role in the rescue and relief operations in Haiti in the wake of a deadly earthquake there, Chinese UN Permanent Representative Zhang Yesui, who holds the rotating Security Council Presidency for January, said on Tuesday.

Zhang made the remarks after the 15-nation Council unanimously endorsed a proposal by UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to send 3, 500 more peacekeepers to quake-hit Haiti.

Zhang said the Council held a meeting immediately after the earthquake, expressing deepest condolences and support to the government and people of Haiti. On Monday, five days after the earthquake, the Council held another meeting to show firm support to the rescue and relief work in Haiti.

"The rescue and relief operation in Haiti is facing great challenges at the moment," said Zhang, adding the challenges include the security situation there, the distribution of humanitarian materials, the reconstruction and many others.

The United Nations should act in a proactive way in the process, Zhang said.

More than 50,000 people were believed to have died in the magnitude-7.3 quake that struck the Caribbean island country on Jan. 12. Haitian officials said it was the strongest earthquake to hit the country in more than 200 years.

The UN and its partners launched an appeal for 562 million U.S. dollars last week, to help the victims of the earthquake, which has left basic services on the brink of collapse in the capital city Port-au-Prince.

The funds are intended to assist an estimated 3 million affected people over a period of six months, with half of the funds being earmarked for emergency food aid, and the rest targeted at health, water, sanitation, nutrition, early recovery, emergency education and other key needs.

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