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Senior UN Official Warns of Enormous Tasks Ahead of Rainy Season in Haiti

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Almost a month after the devastating earthquake, Haitians are looking to the future of the enormous tasks that lay before them in recovery and reconstruction, particularly the rainy season, the UN chief of mission said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters at the UN Headquarters in New York in a video teleconference from Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, Edmond Mullet, the acting special representative of UN Secretary- general Ban Ki-moon, said that with rainy season coming now, the effects could stir up damage to the already broken down infrastructure. Mullet is also the head of the UN mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH.

Noting Wednesday's first rainfall in the Haitian capital, Mullet said it was "very worrying," especially the impact that mudslides could have on the ground.

"MINUSTAH has established some rescue teams already when these happen," Mullet said. "What we need now is shelters, tents."

Especially with the rainy season, the issues of health and sanitation are of concern, he said, noting that the current immunization campaigns, which have targeted 500,000 children under the age of seven, will be stepped up in the coming weeks to other regions.

"Our main priority continues to be the humanitarian aid -- food, water, shelter, sanitation," Mullet said.

"Life is coming back to the city," he said, adding that banks are opening, national police are directing traffic and conducting their own patrols, and military troops on the ground are coordinating relief efforts.

"Now we're trying to look forward into the future -- working for the reconstruction of Haiti," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 12, 2010)

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