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U.N. Appeals to Members for More Haiti Aid

The United Nations launched a new appeal for nearly $1.5 billion Thursday to help the 3 million Haitians badly affected by last month's devastating earthquake.

The appeal, covering needs in 2010, is more than double the U.N.'s initial request on Jan. 15 for $562 million to help quake victims for six months.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his special envoy for Haiti, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, were launching the $1.44 billion appeal at a meeting with diplomats from many of the 191 other U.N. member states.

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Donors have already pledged $673 million, said Stephanie Bunker, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. That means $768 million is still needed, Bunker said.

According to the U.N., more than 1.2 million Haitians need emergency shelter and urgent santitation facilities and at least 2 million need food. Help is also needed for families and communities that have taken in quake victims who fled Port-au-Prince and other badly affected cities.

The new appeal also seeks funds to revive agriculture, provide emergency telecommunications, manage camps for the displaced, improve nutrition and start early recovery programs including cash-for-work.

While emergency humanitarian relief efforts will have to continue for many months, U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said, "we have to be engaged in Haiti for the long haul, for life-saving relief as well as reconstruction."

The U.N. said the size of the revised appeal - covering about 30 percent of Haiti's population - reflects the scale of the catastrophe, the unmet needs, and the need to put in place the right early recovery programs that will lay the basis for later reconstruction.

The Jan. 12 earthquake killed more than 200,000 people and left 1.2 million homeless.

The largest U.N. appeal for a natural disaster before Haiti was the 2005 request for $1.41 billion for the Asian tsunami that struck a dozen countries around the Indian Ocean rim and left 230,000 people dead.

Clinton, who served as the U.N. special envoy for tsunami recovery, said on the fifth anniversary in December that the more than US$13 billion in aid money that poured in from around the world, went to historically poor and ignored areas.

For 2010, the latest U.N. appeal is for $1.9 billion for Sudan.

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