Page last updated at 01:45 GMT, Friday, 19 February 2010

Haiti earthquake: UN seeks record aid donations

A makeshift camp in Haiti
More than one million people were left homeless by the quake

The United Nations has increased its humanitarian appeal for Haiti to $1.44bn (£929m) - an all-time high.

Special envoy Bill Clinton launched the latest appeal, saying there remained an urgent need for tents, food and water with the rainy season looming.

Earlier UN humanitarian chief John Holmes was critical of the organisation of international aid since the quake on 12 January that devastated Haiti.

The last UN record appeal - $1.41bn - was made after the 2004 Asian tsunami.

The UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said other priority areas for Haiti included agriculture, health, logistics, nutrition, protection, sanitation and hygiene.

To meet the needs of the people of Haiti will require more of the generous global support that we have seen so far
John Holmes
UN humanitarian chief

Announcing the new total, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: "As the rainy season is coming to Haiti, it will be extremely important to provide on a priority basis shelters, sanitation and other necessary humanitarian assistance."

Former US President Bill Clinton, the UN's special envoy for Haiti, urged people to donate immediately.

"Pledge less and give it. And do it sooner than later," he said at an event to launch the increased appeal.

He said Haitians needed to get out of the cycle of existing day-to-day and become less reliant on handouts.

"They have to be able to go month-to-month. Then we'll try to help them do the rest."

More than 1.2 million people are estimated still to be homeless in Haiti, with some 230,000 killed by the quake.

Donation tracking

Mr Clinton also said his UN special envoy website would allow donors to track where donations where being used.

"It is the beginning of a transparency process that worked so well in the tsunami area that enabled us to build back better. You have a right to hold me accountable for this and to hold our system accountable."

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said help for Haiti required long-term effort for reconstruction.

"To meet the needs of the people of Haiti will require more of the generous global support that we have seen so far."

Mr Holmes took part in the appeal launch after details on an e-mail he had written criticising the performance of aid agencies in Haiti was leaked to the press.

Bill Clinton, UN special envoy to Haiti
Bill Clinton said he would be accountable for donations

In the e-mail, Mr Holmes wrote that while a lot had been achieved, much of their efforts had been poorly co-ordinated and resourced, weakening confidence in the agencies' ability to deliver help.

He said major humanitarian needs had not been met, particularly in relation to shelter and sanitation.

He said on Thursday that the e-mail was making a "rather technical point" to UN agencies.

"What I was trying to say is there's still a huge amount to do. We need to have the proper cluster co-ordination resources to do that which will go well beyond what are needed in any ordinary disaster."

Coming rains

With the rainy season beginning, the UN's top official in Haiti, Edmond Mulet, speaking in Spain, urged countries to rush tents to Haiti.

"We need latrines, we need field tents, we need plastic sheets so that people can cover themselves," he said.

"The rains are coming. I don't think we are going to be able to shelter all these people in time," he warned.

He was speaking after Haiti aid talks with EU and US officials in Spain.

Heavy rain fell on Thursday in Haiti, forcing many people to scramble for shelter.

Homeless quake victims are still sheltering in makeshift camps scattered across the ruined capital. Sanitation is a major problem, with aid workers warning of the threat of disease spreading.

Spain, the current holder of the EU presidency, says the homeless Haitians must be relocated as soon as possible.

The talks in La Granja, near the Spanish town of Segovia, were aimed at better co-ordinating the aid effort by the EU, UN and US.

The UN said its earlier its appeal for $576m (£366m; 420m euros) in emergency funding for Haiti had now been 95% met.

The EU's aid for Haiti, including planned pledges, totals nearly 309m euros, of which 120m euros is European Commission money.

On a visit to Haiti on Wednesday the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, pledged 270m euros in reconstruction aid for the former French colony.

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