Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Haiti’s earthquake death toll revised to at least 250,000

Haiti’s devastating January earthquake killed between 250,000 and 300,000 people, the head of the United Nations mission in the country has said, at least 30,000 more than previously thought.

Haiti's earthquake deathtoll revised to at least 250,000

Earthquake survivors unload food from a UN helicopter Photo: REUTERS

Until now, the Haitian government death toll was more than 220,000.

April 21 “marked the 100th day since the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti, leaving between 250,000 and 300,000 people dead,” said Edmond Mulet, the head of the UN mission in Haiti.

Mr Mulet also said that 300,000 people were wounded in the disaster, and more than one million people were left homeless.

The 7.0-magnitude quake left much of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince in ruins, destroying infrastructure and the seat of government and causing a humanitarian catastrophe in a country already considered the poorest in the Americas.

Mr Mulet, speaking at a press conference, said that he wants the UN Security Council to send an extra 800 police officers to provide safety in the refugee camps.

“In the history of humanity one has never seen a natural disaster of this dimension,” said Mulet, adding that the Haiti quake death toll was twice the toll of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II.

He added that the next 12 to 18 months will be “critical,” noting that peacekeepers in the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) will focus on five areas: helping support the government organise quick elections, co-ordinate “post-disaster” humanitarian aid, provide general security, support the Haitian government in carrying out its reconstruction plan, and “help Haiti rebuild its human capital.”

Mr Mulet, a native of Guatemala, took over the UN mission on March 31, replacing Tunisian Hedi Annabi, who was killed in the quake.

If the Security Council accepts Mulet’s recommendations, the overall number of UN police in Haiti will rise to 4,391.

When the MINUSTAH peacekeeping soldiers are also counted – though Mulet has not asked for an increase in this force – the total UN force would reach 13,300 supported by more than 2,000 civilians.

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