UN chief urges nations to consider deploying forces to help Haiti, amid reports they have set up makeshift camps.
John Kerry, US secretary of state, made his first international visit, starting in the Dominican Republic on Friday, as the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, appealed for international support.
Speaking on the sidelines of a gathering of regional and international leaders, Kerry said that “the international community needs to step up” to help.
He told a press conference that the UN was “in no condition to do anything” after a deadly earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale killed more than 300 people and displaced millions of people.
The US president, Barack Obama, also offered his condolences. He said: “After a great deal of reflection I have come to understand the tragedy in Haiti and the need for the international community to respond effectively”.
“The international community needs to step up,” he said. “It’s clear that the relief effort is going to require a lot of funding, and the international community needs to step up its efforts.”
Haiti’s official death toll is at least 240, with more than 2.4 million people affected by the disaster.
Kerry said he was meeting victims’ families, religious groups, and local officials at a crisis centre called the Red Cross. He described the efforts to help as “unprecedented”.
“It has been the largest and most compassionate outpouring of international humanitarian solidarity ever seen in the history of the world,” he said.
Ban said that “this is a moment of enormous opportunity” as it was the first time that the UN held a special session on the global response to an earthquake.
“The response must be proportionate to the scale of the tragedy in Haiti. This crisis requires solidarity and is therefore so much larger than Haiti,” Ban told Kerry.
Ban appealed for support from the international community, saying that it should “contribute to building a