NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–20 January 2010 – The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is assessing the structure of buildings and working to avoid potential environmental emergencies in Haiti where the immediate focus is on medical assistance, clear water and sanitation, emergency shelter, and food for the nearly 3 million people affected.
“OCHA [Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] will lead on overall coordination, while UNEP will ensure the integration of environmental issues into the respective cluster response plans,” said Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes.
According to a press release today, the most urgent issues for UNEP include waste management, mass burials and disposal of demolition material. Since last week, UNEP staff has actively assisted UN colleagues on technical matters including structural assessments of buildings and emergency environmental assessments of destroyed sites.
Initial assessments conducted by UNEP have not indicated acute environmental emergency situations, but major issues are anticipated in the early recovery phase.
A flash appeal for $562 million, covering a period of six months, was launched by the UN and international partners on Friday. The appeal included $1 million for environmental interventions during the early recovery phase of operations.
The Joint UNEP-OCHA Environment Unit and the Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch (PCDMB) are working closely with the local Haitian Government, and with partners in WHO, UNDP, the World Bank and European Commission and the NGO community to deliver what is needed.
In addition to post-disaster interventions, UNEP will continue to develop the Haiti Regeneration Initiative. The long-term programme is aimed at reducing poverty and vulnerability to natural hazards through the restoration of ecosystems and sustainable natural resource management.
Earlier this month, as part of its multi-faceted efforts to bring stability and development to the country, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) launched a pilot project that recycles used tires to bring jobs to unemployed youth while protecting the environment.