Official Concedes Limited UN Role in Early Days of Haiti Relief

The death of top United Nations officials in Haiti contributed to the minimal humanitarian role that the agency had during the initial Haiti quake relief phase, according to the U.N.’s acting Haiti mission chief.

“At the very beginning it was very difficult because all the headquarters was completely destroyed and all the leadership of the mission was killed,” Mulet said to Reuters.

Last week, the global body got flak from one of its own officials, U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes, for the poor coordination of work and resources in the early days of the Haiti disaster relief efforts.

Some experts are arguing that the U.N. can learn greatly from the operations of nonprofits such as the International Medical Corps, Medicins Sans Frontieres, CARE and Catholic Relief Services, particularly when it comes to speedy disaster response.

“When you ask yourself if there were ways you could have prevented more mortalities or diminished excess mortality, with earthquakes, in particular, it’s more timing than anything else,” said Solomon Kuah, a New York-based physician who coordinated IMC’s Haiti relief efforts.

About the author

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino is an associate editor for Devex and leads the company's news team in Manila. She played a critical role in conceptualizing the Development Newswire. Prior to joining Devex in 2004, she has already published articles and news briefs for Internet media organizations and for the Institute for Ethics and Economic Policy at Fordham University in New York. She earned her bachelor's in political science and master's in public affairs from the University of the Philippines. Eliza is a member of Mensa Philippines.