The United Nations is preparing for the worst as Hurricaine Irene bears down on Haiti. From the UN News Centre:

United Nations staff in Haiti have activated their emergency response systems to prepare for tonight’s expected arrival of Hurricane Irene as it crosses the Caribbean region.

Irene was upgraded from a tropical storm and Haitian authorities have issued a “red alert” for the entire country, although the hurricane is expected to hit hardest along the country’s north coast, according to information released today by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Working with the UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSTAH), OCHA has activated an emergency joint response centre and an expanded joint operation centre.

The UN is helping authorities and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with a public awareness campaign focused on highly populated areas and on markets, while an evacuation assessment started earlier today.

It already hit Puerto Rico

Now, the storm is bearing down on Haiti. Here’s the latest map. It looks like the eye will stay north of Haiti, but even very heavy rains can be potentially devastating to people living in camps on marginal lands

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