UNHCR reiterates strong commitment to help humanitarian effort in Haiti

News Stories, 19 January 2010

© AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ivanoh Demers, Montreal La Presse
A young survivor of the deadly earthquake in Haiti. He was being tended to at the Hotel Villa Creole in the devastated capital, Port-au-Prince.

GENEVA, January 19 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Tuesday reiterated strong commitment to back up and support the broader humanitarian effort to address the massive and urgent needs in Haiti. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Sir John Holmes is leading the United Nations' emergency response.

"We are fully committed to assist where UNHCR expertise and supplies are found to be most helpful by the UN team on the ground," UNHCR chief spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, told reporters in Geneva.

She noted that the refugee agency has, to date, no established presence in Haiti as its mandate is mainly invoked in situations of forced displacement stemming from targeted persecution or widespread violence.

"In this context, what we can and are offering is any necessary back up expertise in protection, camp management, site planning and coordination as well as our stockpile of tents and plastic sheeting, where needed," she added.

Two aircraft carrying 2,130 lightweight tents and 18,550 plastic sheets for more than 90,000 people will arrive in Haiti at the beginning of next week from UNHCR's logistics and supplies hub in Dubai. A small team will arrive in the Dominican Republic imminently, at the request of the UN's resident coordinator there.

UNHCR is also sending experts on protection to Haiti to support a team led by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The team will work to identify and assist the most vulnerable people.