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Haiti Update: Search and rescue efforts reveal first picture of MINUSTAH casualties
15 January 2010 / 11:32

[Dateline: New York | Author: iSeek]

As search and rescue efforts continue, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has started to gather provisional information on the number of casualties.

ASG for Peacekeeping Operations and former chief of MINUSTAH, Mr. Edmond Mulet, arrived in Haiti this afternoon and will take over as acting SRSG.  

So far, the Mission has confirmed 36 fatalities, including 13 civilians, 4 police and 19 military personnel.  It is expected that these figures will undoubtedly change in the coming days.

“Approximately 150 UN staff remain unaccounted for. Roughly 100 of them were likely in the UN headquarters building, the Christopher Hotel, when it collapsed” declared Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon this morning during a stake-out to the press at UN HQ in New York.

“As we speak, search and rescue teams are working, using dogs and electronic sensing equipment to try to find survivors. Early this morning, another survivor – an Estonian close protection officer named Tarmo Joveer – was located when scratching sounds were heard,” he said, adding “We will continue to work, to search and rescue, as quickly as possible.”

The Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon recalled today that the UN had over 3,000 UN peacekeeping forces in Port-au-Prince alone.

International relief efforts are picking up; a number of planes carrying equipment and rescue personnel have arrived at Port au Prince airport. This includes flights from the US, France, and Venezuela. A Chinese plane carrying a search and rescue unit expected yesterday was scheduled to arrive in the afternoon.

Joint patrols were conducted by MINUSTAH and the Haitian National Police, primarily to search for MINUSTAH personnel in locations known to house personnel. Today, MINUSTAH Police special teams was to in the city to recover dead bodies lying in the streets, accompanied by military trucks.

All staff will be updated regularly as developments are made available. 

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:   

  • For all queries regarding immediate family members working with the UN Mission in Haiti, please contact +1 212.963.4139.
    [Note: We are experiencing a heavy volume of calls so if you’re having difficulty getting through, please keep trying.] 
  • 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.
  • DPKO/DFS Crisis Hotline: This hotline is for UN colleagues who have voluntary information on personnel in Haiti. Information should be passed via phone or email to the Crisis Hotline at UNHQ in New York in order to avoid rumours and spreading of incorrect information. This Crisis Hotline can be reached at + 1.212.963.1655 or crisishotline@un.org.
  • Many of you have also contacted headquarters to offer assistance and we thank you for your support.  Additional assistance may be needed in support tasks and staff members interested are welcome to e-mail their names and contact numbers to haiticrisishelp@un.org.  Due to the high volume of staff volunteers, we will not be able to contact everyone.