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"Even before the earthquake, Haiti’s public health status was under terrible strain. Haiti still has significant problems with clean water, and dealing with certain diseases like malaria and Dengue fever, which are quite endemic to the area. With further destruction of the water supply, the people of Haiti are going to be at increased risk of developing gastrointestinal diseases, food poisoning, as well as worsening of injuries sustained by those in high-risk groups like children and seniors."
Q. Mr. Secretary-General, can you say how many people in the headquarters staff there in building, in the Hotel Christopher up on the hill, are accounted for, unaccounted for? And also, there is a report that Mr. Annabi is dead; can you comment?
A. First of all, I do not, and we do not, have any exact information. What we can assume is that the total at the time that the earthquake struck the MINUSTAH headquarter, there were around 100 or 150 people still working. They were having important meetings. We are still not aware of having any information. The Brazilian peacekeeping forces have been working all the night through to rescue, but because of the darkness, and the impact on the infrastructure, not much progress has been made. With the dawn of daytime, I am sure we will have better rescue operations.
Q. Mr. Secretary-General, are you going to meet with the Clinton Foundation, or are you sending, using your Special Envoy, Bill Clinton? Is there any news also about Michéle Montas? Is she in Haiti or is she in the United States?
A. Yes, I have spoken with Special Envoy, President Bill Clinton, yesterday, and this morning, I am going to discuss with him again. We have agreed that both the United Nations and himself as Special Envoy for Haiti should coordinate and try our best efforts to mobilize whatever necessary assistance and rescue teams, and try to reconstruct the Haitian economy. At this time, the United Nations will do whatever possible to help the Haitian people. The United Nations will stand firmly and continuously in coordination with the international community to help recover and overcome these difficulties.
Q. Michéle Montas, do you have any news about her?
A. I will try to contact her.
Q. What about your Special Representative — Bill’s question? What’s the latest about him and any other casualties for the United Nations, sir? A. Mr. Annabi was having a consultation with a visiting Chinese delegation. Unfortunately, as of now, we are not able to have any confirmation about the safety of Mr. Annabi. We will do our best efforts. Again, the Deputy Special Representative is also unaccounted for, together with many of our staff. That is why I have decided to dispatch Mr. Edmond Mulet, who used to be a Special Representative, to manage this operation and [help] management of the Mission there. And we have around 3,000 peacekeepers in and around Port-au-Prince . They will be responsible to, first of all, secure the scene and help maintain civil order and security of the city.
Q. Mr. Secretary-General, how soon do you plan on going to see the scene yourself?
A. Myself? I am willing to visit Haiti as practicably early as possible. But at this time, I will try to dispatch Mr. Mulet. Mr. Mulet, if all the arrangements can be made, will be able to leave on Friday, or as early as possible. But for me, we have to see. First of all, I am here to save lives and to manage, to command all the operations, together with the leaders of the international community. And I will do my best, together with President Clinton, when will be the appropriate timing. But I am committed to visit, as practicably early as possible.
Q. Mr. Secretary-General, you said that several badly injured UN staffers had been pulled from the wreckage. Were there any bodies pulled from the wreckage, also? And it seems pretty clear from what you said that there are going to be some serious UN casualties. Also, could you comment on the need for heavy equipment to lift some of the rubble, because this apparently is one of the problems, not just for the UN but in Haiti and the rest of the capital?
A. For that question, I will ask one of my senior advisors to answer. For your second question, I have been in urgent contact with the US Government and I have requested officially [for them] to provide more logistical support and heavy equipment, and trained rescue and assistance teams. And our Force Commander is in contact with the American military commander, and I will continue to coordinate with the US Government.
Now, I am very much grateful to the US Government and many other governments who have expressed their willingness to dispatch urgent and immediate assistance teams. I will continue to coordinate with them. If you excuse me, I have another important meeting, so I will have some of our senior advisers to answer further questions. Thank you very much.