Long after the story fades from the headlines, the UN will still be there
The United Nations has a heavy presence in this impoverished and aid-dependent Caribbean nation. Haiti, known for its musicians and artists, is the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, with impenetrable roads, crumbling infrastructure, illiteracy and a barely functioning judicial system. In 2008, it suffered four hurricanes that killed 800 people, destroyed about 100,000 homes and cost $1 billion in damage. It did not deserve an earthquake as well.
Despite having lost many officials, the UN will stay on the front line of the relief effort during this critical post-earthquake period. The United Nations has probably suffered its worst one-day calamity ever, with more than 150 military and civilian staff believed buried in the rubble of Haiti's seismic activity. The loss of life is even greater than the terrorist bombing in Baghdad in 2003 that killed 22 people, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the chief UN envoy in Iraq.
The UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) provides immediate assistance during crises and coordinates relief efforts on the ground. The gap between an appeal for assistance and disbursement can be long. This delay costs lives. CERF plays a critical role, allocating funds within hours of an emergency, coordinating aid, bridging gaps, reducing overlaps and making sure resources are not wasted.
Because thousands of United Nations staff are already on the ground in Haiti, the aid will get put to work immediately. In addition, UN disaster relief experts and their teams around the world have already been mobilized.
The ITC-ILO has Haitian former participants who, at the moment, cannot be contacted. This is a message to convey moral support to all of them and their families in this terrible situation.
Image provided by the United Nations. An aerial view of the UN headquarters in Haiti shows the devastation caused by the earthquake measuring 7.0 - Photograph by: Logan Abassi, handout via Getty Images