`Good shelter` unlikely in Haiti: UN official

Last Updated: Saturday, February 13, 2010 - 12:03

Port-au-Prince: A top UN official in Haiti on Friday said many of those made homeless by the massive earthquake one month ago are unlikely to be provided "good shelter" before the coming rainy season.
While the United Nations and other organisations involved in aid efforts are aiming to provide some sort of shelter material before the rains begin around May, the deputy head of the UN mission here said the challenge will be immense.

"I think it`s almost certainly going to be the case there are going to be a lot of people without good shelter by the time the rains really come," Anthony Banbury said in an interview.

He said officials debated whether to distribute more sturdy shelter that could better withstand the elements but that would take longer to provide and reach fewer people, or work to hand out something to everyone.

"I think for obvious humanitarian reasons, the decision was to give something to everyone," Banbury said. "It`s going to be a challenge to even achieve that goal -- not easy, but that is the objective."

He said even if the aid effort is able to do that by providing items such as tarpaulins for all of the more than one million sleeping in the streets since the January 12 quake, those homeless will still face difficult circumstances.

"No matter what, though, it`s not going to be pretty," said Banbury.

"No one should be under any illusions that all million people who have lost their homes are going to be living in comfortable, sturdy shelter by May 1. That`s just not going to happen."

Haitian government officials and aid organisations have warned that the coming rainy season poses a major threat to the homeless. Conditions in makeshift camps throughout the capital have already become a major health concern.

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed an estimated 217,000 people.

Bureau Report



First Published: Saturday, February 13, 2010 - 12:03

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