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Monday, January 18, 2010

UN delivers aid in Haiti

UN delivers aid in Haiti...! PORT-AU-PRINCE: The United Nations delivered food and essentials in Haiti on Thursday, just days after dozens of its personnel were killed in Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti, the worst loss of life the world body has ever suffered in a single incident. More than 48 hours after the disaster, tens of thousands of people clamored for food and water and help digging out relatives still missing under the rubble. The Haitian Red Cross said it believed 45,000 to 50,000 people had died and 3 million more -- one third of Haiti's population -- were hurt or left homeless by the major 7.0 magnitude quake that hit its impoverished capital on Tuesday. The quake flattened buildings across entire hillsides and many people were still trapped alive in the rubble after two days, with little sign of organized rescue efforts.

U.N. peacekeepers stood by as aid workers delivered food to hundreds of people waiting in long lines. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said earlier that around 150 U.N. staff remained unaccounted for. He added that he had no news about the fate of the head of the peacekeeping mission in Haiti, Hedi Annabi of Tunisia. Haitian President Rene Preval said on Wednesday that Annabi was dead. But U.N. officials later cast doubt on his remarks, saying they had no information to confirm it. The U.N. force, which includes about 9,000 troops and police from more than 40 countries, was  sent to the country in 2004 to try to bring stability after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted by armed gangs and former soldiers.
It has supported efforts to bring democracy to Haiti, run programs to disarm militant groups and helped the Haitian police. Haiti has been run by President Rene Preval since May 2006, when it returned to constitutional rule. U.N. humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes said the world body's operations in Haiti "have been very badly affected" by the earthquake and the loss of some of its key personnel, and it was urgently trying to reinforce its ranks. Tens of thousands of people are feared dead and many are believed still trapped alive in rubble after the 7.0 magnitude quake hit the capital of the Caribbean nation on Tuesday. Holmes said he would launch an appeal on Friday for emergency funds for Haiti, although he did not say how much he would request.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

China's online population

China's online population swells to 384 million...! BEIJING: The number of Internet users in China, already the largest in the world, rose to 384 million by the end of 2009, a government-linked  industry body said Friday. The online population in the world's most populous nation increased by 28.9 percent last year from the end of 2008, the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) said in a report published on its website. Users accessing the Internet with mobile phones jumped by 120 million last year to 233 million, with the fast expansion of the country's third-generation (3G) network, allowing high-speed transmission of images and video, it said. The report added that Chinese web users are most interested in music, news and search engine services.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Quake

A survivor is pulled out of the rubble following the deadly Haiti earthquake16 January 2010 – The acting top United Nations envoy to Haiti called Tuesday's catastrophic earthquake "a great tragedy," as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon prepares to visit the impoverished Caribbean nation tomorrow. With the top UN official in Haiti, Hédi Annabi, still unaccounted for, Mr. Ban dispatched Edmond Mulet, his former Special Representative to Haiti and current Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, to the country to assume full command of the UN Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH).Upon arriving in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday - one day after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti - Mr. Mulet held talks with President René Préval and other top officials, in which he stressed that MINUSTAH is in the process of building back its capacity and emphasized the Mission''s full support of the Government as it rebuilds the devastated capital. He has also flown over the capital, Port-au-Prince, the city most devastated by the tremors, with Mr. Préval, during which they saw first-hand the destruction wrought by the disaster, which is believed to have affected one third of Haiti's 9-million strong population. UN emergency teams on the ground estimate that as many of half of the buildings in the worst-hit areas of the capital have been damaged or destroyed. 
During a meeting yesterday afternoon with Haitian UN staff members this afternoon in New York, the Secretary-General offered his condolences and said that he will visit the country on Sunday to show his solidarity with UN staff, hundreds of whom are unaccounted for, and the people of Haiti. He also said that he hopes to assess the humanitarian assistance effort and the scale of the catastrophe for himself. "We are still in the search-and-rescue phase, and we are trying to save as many lives as possible," Mr. Ban told reporters, as UN agencies continue to rush assistant to Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) aims to reach up to 2 million people with one-week rations of ready-to-eat food, while also planning for food-for-work schemes to jump-start reconstruction and rehabilitation. For its part, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is distributing water purification tablets, rehydration salts and other supplies in a bid to prevent the spread of diarrheal infections and diseases. Two planes loaded with 70 metric tons of tents, tarpaulin, and medicine are also set to land in Haiti this weekend. 
A major humanitarian operation is under way, Mr. Ban said, and "although it is inevitably slower and more difficult than any of us would wish, we are mobilizing all resources as fast as we possibly can." With the airport''s capacity limited, roads still blocked and the lack of transport and fuel within Haiti, the logistical situation, he stressed, is a very difficult one. "That said, the international community''s response has been generous and robust, and we are gearing up rapidly and effectively despite the challenging circumstances," he said, a sentiment echoed by Mr. Mulet. Yesterday, Mr. Ban spoke by phone with President Préval and assured him the UN was fully mobilized to bring aid. The Haitian said that the biggest problem was coordinating all the aid efforts and that he would discuss the issue with Mr. Ban''s acting Special Representative in Haiti Edmond Mulet. Mr. Ban said United States coordination with the UN was also very important. The UN has launched a flash appeal for some $562 million, with a bulk of these funds to be directed to urgent needs, including food, water and shelter. UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky announced yesterday that over 300 UN personnel are still missing or unaccounted for, with 36 military and civilian MINUSTAH personnel, as well as one WFP staff member, having been confirmed to have died. The Christopher Hotel, which houses the UN headquarters in Haiti, and other buildings hosting the world body's offices collapsed in the tremors.