First UN aid cargo plane in 3 months lands in Haitian capital

The first UN aid cargo flight in three months landed in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, UN humanitarians said Friday. [Xinhua]

The first UN aid cargo flight in three months landed Thursday in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, UN humanitarians said Friday.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the UN Humanitarian Air Service flight from Panama carried medical supplies to support the efforts of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) amid gang violence paralyzing the Haitian capital.

"This will support critical, lifesaving operations as insecurity continues to restrict people's access to health care, mainly in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince and in the Artibonite department," OCHA said. "Haitian authorities, WHO and local NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) continue to provide a wide range of services to displaced people, including screening for malnutrition, cholera prevention and care and psychosocial support."

UNICEF voiced its concern about child recruitment and use by armed groups in Haiti.

The agency issued a statement in which it estimates that 30-50 percent of armed group members are children, subject to coercion, abuse and exploitation.

UNICEF and the Haitian authorities recently agreed on joint ways of working to support the reintegration of children who previously were members of armed groups, said the fund.

Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said Guterres welcomes the designation by the Transitional Presidential Council of Garry Conille as Haiti's interim prime minister and looks forward to further progress in the establishment of the transitional governance arrangements.

"He encourages all Haitian stakeholders to work together to ensure steady progress in the transition to restore democratic institutions through the holding of elections," Dujarric said. "The secretary-general also stresses the importance of ensuring an inclusive political transition in Haiti, including by appointing women to decision-making positions."

The spokesman said it remains critical that security gains accompany progress in the political transition.

"The secretary-general therefore reiterates his call for the swift deployment of the Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission to Haiti to support the Haitian National Police in addressing the dire security situation, and urgently appeals to all (UN) member states to ensure that the MSS mission promptly receives the financial and logistical support it needs to succeed," Dujarric said.

The spokesman also noted that the humanitarian response plan for Haiti is only 21 percent funded, with 142 million U.S. dollars received out of the 674 million dollars needed.