Aid for Haiti a priority as 600,000 still live in camps following quake

October 6th, 2011 - 1:25 am ICT by BNO News  

UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) — More than 600,000 people in Haiti are still living in camps after last year’s devastating earthquake, the United Nations (UN) said on Wednesday, emphasizing the ongoing need for humanitarian aid.

The UN underlined that access to safe drinking water, sanitation and food are the most important humanitarian needs in Haiti over the next year as hundreds of thousands continue to depend on aid for survival.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos noted that Haitian refugees are in an extremely vulnerable situation, facing food insecurity, the threat to cholera and natural disasters such as the ongoing hurricane season which has brought several storms to the region.

Following her two-day visit to Haiti last week, Amos said “the President, donors and the people of Haiti want to see a much greater focus on development and there is considerable frustration that the pace is slow. But I want everyone to remember that the humanitarian crisis in Haiti is not over.”

During her visit to one of the camps in a neighborhood of the capital, Port-au-Prince, residents expressed frustration over having to continue living in camps because they cannot afford to rent houses or repair their own homes.

“While important efforts are being made to put the country on the road to recovery, and I fully support this, significant humanitarian needs remain and must be addressed,” said Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.

In addition to the victims of last year’s earthquake, the cholera outbreak has claimed the lives of nearly 6,500 people in Haiti over the past year, and heavy rainfall last month set off new outbreaks of the disease throughout the country.

“Sanitation and the provision of safe water is a national priority, and the ministry of public health and population is progressively improving and taking over the cholera treatment centers,” Amos stated.

Amos noted that the international community needs to work together to support Haiti. “We cannot forget the hundreds of thousands of people living in camps or are affected by the cholera epidemic. We have asked for $382 million for critical relief and protection work this year and have so far received only 57 percent of the funding needed,” she added.

Furthermore, Amos said humanitarian agencies continue to express concern regarding gender-based violence and forced evictions from the camps.

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