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UN Official Praises China's Aid Efforts in Haiti

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China's quick response to Haiti's quake and the hard work of Chinese aid personnel are very impressive and commendable, a UN official said Tuesday.

Edmond Mulet, acting special representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti, noted in an interview with Xinhua that after the quake, China took the lead to come to Haiti's rescue.

"We are very appreciative and thankful that China became one of the first nations, in spite of the distance between China and Haiti, to arrive here with medical supplies and emergency relief," he said.

The official said he highly appreciated the fact that the Chinese rescuers helped to find remains of his missing colleagues in the ruins of the UN mission building, which was destroyed in the January 12 quake.

"When the first Chinese team left, you sent a second team more dedicated to medical relief," he said.

Mulet also noted that China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, "was the first to propose increasing the capacity of UN in Haiti's reconstruction," which demonstrated China's political support for the UN.

The Chinese medical team set up a field hospital and made a lot of efforts to treat the victims and prevent epidemics, said the official. In addition, the 5,000 tents provided by the Chinese government met the urgent needs of the population. "It is very much appreciated," he added.

The official also gave high marks to the Chinese peacekeepers and policemen in Haiti.

Mulet said he had a very close working relationship with the unit of Chinese policemen and peacekeepers when he was the head of the UN mission in Haiti several years ago.

At that time, the security situation in Port-au-Prince was unstable, and gangs and violence were everywhere, said the official.

Chinese peacekeepers took part in a series of anti-gang operations and played a key role in maintaining peace and stability in Port-au-Prince and the nation as a whole.

As the situation improved, Chinese peacekeepers patrolled the streets of Port-au-Prince, setting up checkpoints and maintaining social order.

After the quake, the workload of Chinese peacekeepers has doubled. They are not only maintaining public security but also are playing an important role in the rescue and relief operations, said Mulet.

"They endured the great loss of eight colleagues in the quake and fully committed themselves to the relief work. I am deeply grateful for that," he said.

"My impression of the Chinese peacekeepers is that they are a professional, highly-efficient, fast-responsive and multifunction team, an important force to maintain the situation in Haiti and especially here in Port-au-Prince," said Mulet.

The official said although their barracks were damaged in the quake, the Chinese peacekeepers are still on duty, helping to "keep the situation under control, stable and secure."

They earned respect from the Haitians through hard work, he added.

Death toll to grow further

The death toll of Haiti's earthquake is estimated to exceed 200,000, and the number will grow further, said Mulet.

However, "we may never know how many died in the earthquake," he said. In the first days after the Jan. 12 earthquake, many bodies were buried by families and friends, said the official.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) didn't establish cremation facilities in the Haitian capital until the 4th day after the quake, when preliminary data of the death toll first came out, said the official.

After a supply of food and medicine for Haiti's quake zones has been secured on a preliminary basis, providing housing for the quake victims becomes the top priority for the UN mission in Haiti, Mulet said.

"What we need here is not any tents, but those solid tents strong enough to resist wind and water, since the Haiti's rain season is coming," Mulet said.

In rebuilding Haiti, he stressed that "we have to do things right."

The UN plan to turn refugee camps into well-planned communities with schools, churches and other facilities is a case in point.

According to the official, in the first phase of international relief operations, the focus is to find survivors and treat external injuries.

A total of 67 international rescue teams, including one from China, are participating in this phase of work, he added.

"Now we are in the phase of humanitarian assistance. The utmost priority is to provide medical assistance," said Mulet.

In the first days after the quake, distribution of international aid supplies in Haiti was quite slow because the UN mission itself was devastated and there are only one airport in Port-au-Prince and two harbors in the whole country.

But now, Mulet said, the Port-au-Prince airport is open on a 24-hour basis, while the neighboring Dominican Republic has opened its borders so that international aid supplies can be transported more smoothly.

The official said the UN mission's logistics and coordination work is now back on track while distribution of water and food can meet the basic demand of quake victims.

(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2010)

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