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Haiti earthquake: UN chief condoles with victims, pledges support

Haiti flag
Antonio Gutteres, UN Secretary General

By Cecilia Ologunagba

New York, Aug. 15, 2021

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has extended his deep condolences to the families of the victims as well as the government and people of Haiti over the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the country on Saturday.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, said in a statement on Sunday in New York that Guterres was deeply sad over the disaster that reportedly killed over 200 people.

Dujarric said the secretary-general was saddened to learn of the tragic loss of lives and injuries caused by the large earthquake that struck the southern part of Haiti on August 14.

“The United Nations, together with the humanitarian community in Haiti, is supporting the Government’s efforts to assist those affected by the earthquake and stands ready to provide further backing to the response,’’ he said.

According to him, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that its teams already on the ground are making assessments to prioritise urgent needs and provide assistance to affected populations.

In a statement, UNICEF said the quake was felt in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, but the epicentre was detected in the southern parts of the country.

Serious damage, injuries and casualties are reported in the Grande Anse, Sud and Sud-Est department, said UNICEF.

According to news reports, the latest earthquake, similar in magnitude to the 2010 quake that devastated the country and left hundreds of thousands of people dead and displaced, has toppled Churches and schools, and severely curtailed electricity in the affected areas.

“We are deeply saddened by the reports of casualties and heavy damage following the earthquake in Haiti,” said Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in the country, who added that the agency stands in solidarity with families and children in the wake of the disaster.

He noted that UNICEF is working with government and non-government partners to provide support to affected communities.

The agency warned that children and families might have been displaced as a result of the earthquake and could be in urgent need of shelter, clean water, medical care and protection.

Also, UNICEF chief, Henrietta Fore, in a Tweeter post, said she was deeply saddened by the unfolding tragedy.

“Today and in the coming days, UNICEF will be working closely with our partners to reach affected children and families,” the UN Correspondent quoted Henrietta as saying.

The earthquake struck as a tropical storm bares down on the Caribbean region and with Haiti itself facing a recent spike in COVID-19 cases and still coping with the assassination last month of President Jovenel Moise.

“Our thoughts are with the people of Haiti following the devastating earthquake, said UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed in a Twitter post where she also stressed that the Organisation “is committed to delivering in solidarity with you”.

Similarly, Collen Vixen Kelapile, President of the UN Economic and Social Council, said the “people of Haiti are in our thoughts at this difficult time”.

He said that the Council’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti would keep working to promote the long-term development of the country, referring to the body created to provide advice and promote socioeconomic recovery, reconstruction and stability in the country.

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