Three years ago on Saturday the western hemisphere experienced the worst natural disaster in recent memory when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook the heart of Haiti. Over 200,000 people were killed. A massive humanitarian disaster — and a massive international response ensued.
I recently caught up with the head of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Lasdous. In the conversation below, Mr. Lasdous discusses some of the hotspots in which peackeeping is currently engaged–or may engage in the future.
Americans should start paying attention to this budding crisis, and soon. The United States has dispatched its military to Haiti three times in the past 15 years. Unless this humanitarian emergency is nipped in the bud, we can expect a political crisis to explode.
Haiti was spared a direct hit by Sandy, but the damage, death, and displacement caused by the storm is much, much worse than anywhere else on the planet right now.
The wealthiest city in the most powerful country on the planet is poised to get hit by an epic storm. Things will be bad, but the city of New York and the federal government of the United States has the capacity and wherewithall to manage this crisis. But what happens when a storm or natural disaster of equally destructive magnitude hits a place that does not have that same ability to deal with a natural disaster?
Here in the USA, Isaac has mostly been met with chortles (from Democrats) about how the storm may disrupt the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida next week. But this is a storm to be taken very seriously. It has all the markings of a an impending humanitarian catastrophe.
SG: Last night the SG spoke at a joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica where he repeated his call for an unconditional and extendable humanitarian ceasefire. Speaking about yesterday’s shelling of a UN shelter he said: “Nothing – nothing – justifies such horror” and demanded “that all parties immediately respect UN premises”.
SG: The SG met with President Ortega yesterday in Nicaragua where he visited a wind farm and praised the country’s commitment to renewable energy. The SG arrived in Costa Rica today where he is expected to lecture about “Costa Rica and the United Nations: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century”.
Iraq: The SG met with Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki in Baghdad today as well as Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to review the ongoing security crisis. The SG congratulated Fouad Massoum on his election as Iraq’s new President and remarked that a new government “will strengthen the unity of the country, fight effectively against terrorism and ISIS, as well as uproot the seeds of sectarianism and division.”
SG: The SG met with Israeli President Peres in Jerusalem today to encourage dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Speaking to the press with President Peres, he again underlined the need to stop violence and begin dialogue that addresses the root causes of the conflict.
SG: The SG briefed the SC today from Ramallah where he reiterated his message from today’s earlier press conference in Tel Aviv with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to: “Stop fighting. Start talking. And take on the root causes of the conflict.” The SG will continue travelling this week to Jordan and Saudi Arabia.