At this stage, it has been confirmed that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti's (MINUSTAH) Headquarters in the Christopher Hotel collapsed and at least 150 UN staff who were in the building at the time are still unaccounted for. Other UN installations, including the MINUSTAH logistics base have also sustained serious damage. At this point we cannot estimate the number of casualties.
The earthquake knocked out water and electricity and communications networks within the country have been disabled. MINUSTAH has begun rescue efforts and is helping to clear roads.
Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations , is on his way to Haiti and a flash appeal has been announced.
In a statement , Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon said that his "heart goes out to the people of Haiti after this devastating earthquake."
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy said that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations "is still in the process of gathering information on the extent of the damage and the status of UN personnel. Contacts with the UN on the ground have been severely hampered as communications networks in Haiti have been disabled by the earthquake." [ full statement ]
The Secretary-General has requested that all duty stations lower the UN flag to half-staff effective immediately out of respect for those who have lost their lives. The flags will remain lowered for two full days.
Understandably, many staff members have questions regarding the overall situation, family and friends in Haiti and we would like to reassure you that the UN family has been working hard to gather information on the extent of the damage and the status of UN personnel. All staff will be updated regularly as developments are made available.
It is important that during this time of crisis, the phone lines remain open for communication with the field and families of staff. In order to avoid blocking the phone lines we would request that calls from staff be limited and relevant queries be directed to the numbers below:
- All questions from direct families: +1 212.963.4139 or 917.367.0269 [If the call does not go through, please try again as the lines are experiencing heavy traffic.]
- A list of officials available for media interviews is available. Media queries should be directed to the DPKO Public Affairs Section +1.212.367.5044 or the Office of the Spokesperson +1.212.963.7160/7161/7162.
We thank you for your cooperation and ask that you keep our UN colleagues, their families and friends, and the people of Haiti in your thoughts and prayers.