UN committed to helping Haiti build better future, says Guterres, marking 10-year anniversary of devastating earthquake

UN Photo/Sophia Paris Rescuers search through a United Nations building destroyed by the earthquake which struck Haiti on 12 January, 2010.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


On 12 January 2010, a 7.0 magnitude quake struck Haiti, devastating its capital, Port-au-Prince. About 220,000 people were reportedly killed, among them, 102 UN staff who lost their lives when the building housing the stabilization mission there, known as MINUSTAH, collapsed. Some 300,000 people were injured and 1.5 million become homeless during the 35-second-long tremor.

Marking the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy, Secretary General António Guterres renewed the commitment of the United Nations to helping the country and its people build a better future.

“On this day, we remember the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who lost their lives and the millions gravely affected by the devastating earthquake that struck their country ten years ago,” Mr. Guterres said in a video statement, also honouring the memory of the UN colleagues lost on that same day.

“My heart goes out to all those who lost family, friends and loved ones., the Secretary-General Said, adding: “I will never forget the shock and sadness across the United Nations as we became aware of the scale of the tragedy.”

The UN chief said that over the past decade, Haiti has drawn on the resilience of its people and the support of its many friends to overcome this disaster.

“With the continued support of the international community, Haiti is striving to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including through strengthening the institutions that are so crucial to the wellbeing and prosperity of its people,” Mr. Guterres said.

Sombre Commemorations

On Friday, UN Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters that in Port-au-Prince on Sunday, all UN staff have been invited to attend a commemorative ceremony to be held at the site of the Christopher Hotel, which housed the UN peacekeeping mission’s headquarters, and which collapsed during the earthquake.

Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenča will be the senior official from New York representing the UN at this ceremony and other commemorative events organized by the Haitian Government.

Next week, there will be several other events to mark the anniversary.

On Monday, in Tunis, the UN will inaugurate the Hedi Annabi Hall, honouring the memory of the head of the UN peacekeeping mission, Hedi Annabi, who died in the collapse of the Christopher Hotel. Mr. Annabi was also a long-time Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations in New York.

And in Geneva, on Wednesday, there will be another commemoration at the Palais des Nations, with, among other participants, Haiti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

And lastly, on Friday next week, 17 January, the Secretary-General will take part in a ceremony here which will include representatives of the countries who lost [citizens] their lives in the earthquake.

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