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Greater Coordination Urged for Int'l Aid Efforts in Haiti

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The head of UN mission Saturday called for greater coordination in the international aid efforts in Haiti, which is recovering slowly from the devastating January 12 earthquake.

Edmond Mulet, who heads the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), told reporters that the "moment has arrived to change the way of working in Haiti," according to

He said many foreign groups were not operating under the coordination mechanism established by the UN for the international aid efforts in this Caribbean island nation.

A number of foreign embassies, religious groups and other entities directly delivered supplies to locals without reporting to the UN or the Haitian government beforehand, said the Guatemalan diplomat.

As a result, many Haitians are frustrated in the distribution of aid.

The Haitian government confirmed on Thursday that the death toll from the earthquake disaster had exceeded 212,000 and would rise further.

At lest 2 million out of Haiti's 9-million population are left homeless.

Providing shelters for them before the rainy season is a pressing issue, said Mulet.

Former US President Bill Clinton, as the UN special envoy to Haiti, voiced his confidence in the Haitian government's ability to pull the country together again after his arrival on Friday.

After meeting government leaders and visiting clinics, Clinton said on Saturday that the Haitian government "has the best chance in my lifetime to slip the chains of the past."

The former president's mandate as UN special envoy to Haiti has been extended this week and he is now responsible for ensuring UN headquarters is supporting aid efforts in Haiti.

"More than three weeks after the earthquake, the relief efforts in Haiti have been increasing to meet staggering needs, but the long road to recovery has just begun," he said in a statement.

Another mission of Clinton's trip to Haiti is to mediate in the case of 10 Americans who were charged with kidnapping children out of Haiti.

The five men and five women, all Baptist missionaries, are not eligible for bail under the Haitian law and conviction on the kidnapping charge could carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Clinton on Friday urged US and Haitian governments to find a solution.

A piece of good news for Haiti came from Canada, where leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations decided at a meeting on Saturday to cancel all the country's residual debt.

The industrialized G7 nations which comprises the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada, had been under pressure since the January 12 quake to help Haiti recover by writing off its debts.

With thousands of UN peacekeepers and US troops present, the security situation in Haiti has improved but violence is still a concern.

On Saturday, a person was killed in a bank robbery in Port-au-Prince. Crimes against women appear to be on the rise.

The MINUSTAH now oversees 9,065 peacekeepers from nearly 60 nations and the number will grow by 3,500 under a recent UN resolution.

Besides, the United States has some 10,000 troops in Haiti and vowed to stay there indefinitely.

Gregory Kane, a senior official of the US Joint Task Force in Haiti, said on Saturday that US troops would be in Haiti "as long as needed and are welcomed by the government of Haiti."

(Xinhua News Agency February 7, 2010)

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