UN chief's visit to highlight dire need in hurricane-hit Haiti

AFP , Saturday 15 Oct 2016

UN soldiers guard a truck with aid from the UN's World Food Programme in Port Salut southwest of Port-au-Prince, on October 12, 2016, following the passage of Hurricane Matthew (Photo: AFP)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will call attention to a dire need for emergency aid in hurricane-hit Haiti, with a high-profile visit Saturday to the worst-ravaged parts of the Caribbean nation.

Ban is due to conduct an aerial survey of the damage along with Prime Minister Jean-Charles Enex, then visit Les Cayes on Haiti's southern coast, one of the cities hardest-hit by Matthew.

The UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) said in a statement that Ban "will meet with national and local authorities, representatives of affected communities and humanitarian emergency teams."

After his fly-over, he will hold a joint press conference with interim president Jocelerme Privert, the statement said.

At least 546 people were killed when Matthew crashed ashore on October 4 as a monster Category 4 storm, packing winds of 145 miles (230 kilometers) per hour. More than 175,000 people have been left homeless.

Ban said Monday that a "massive response" was needed to cope with the destruction, with 1.4 million people in need of urgent assistance after towns and villages were almost wiped off the map.

The United Nations has launched a flash appeal for $120 million to help Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, cope with its worst humanitarian crisis since the 2010 earthquake.

But so far, only about 12 percent of the needed funds has been raised to help stave off famine and serious health crises, including cholera.

In addition to the destruction of countless homes and farms, Haitians in the worst-affected areas are dealing with a lack of potable water, which is contributing to the spread of disease.

Haiti has been plagued for a half-dozen years by cholera, which has claimed close to 10,000 lives, despite extensive efforts to combat it

The malady was brought to Haiti in late 2010 by UN peacekeepers from Nepal, who were helping in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Officials have seen evidence of a new spike in cholera cases, which prompted the World Health Organization last week to announce it was sending an additional one million doses of vaccine to Haiti.

The UN Security Council, meanwhile, agreed earlier this week to extend MINUSTAH's stay until April of next year to help combat the myriad crises in the aftermath of Matthew.

The hurricane also prompted election officials to push back already delayed presidential and legislative elections until November 20.

The elections are a do-over after an earlier vote had to be nullified because of violence and massive fraud.

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