UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited the Haitian capital on Sunday for a first-hand survey of the destruction and was scheduled to brief the UN Security Council on his return to New York.
Ban was to fly back to UN headquarters for a meeting with the 15-nation council, which was to convene on Monday to discuss the massive humanitarian operation to assist victims of the magnitude-7 earthquake that ravaged Haiti last Tuesday.
International organizations are bracing for a death toll of up to 200,000, a US military officer confirmed Sunday, a figure which would quadruple the estimates to date in the capital Port-au-Prince.
The UN confirmed on Sunday 40 of its staff, most of them peacekeepers, have been killed, including the three top leaders of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). It said at least 330 UN personnel remain missing or unaccounted for. The reason for the high number of missing could be that many Haitians who worked for the UN have gone back to their families and failed to report to their offices.
Ban surveyed the destruction in Port-au-Prince by helicopter on Sunday and was scheduled to meet with Haitian President Rene Preval to discuss the relief operation involving governments and dozens of international groups.
UN spokesmen said Ban also went to the main UN compound that used to be the headquarters of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which collapsed last Tuesday, killing the chief of mission Hedi Annabi, his deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa and the acting UN police chief, Doug Coates.
MINUSTAH is composed of 7,000 military troops, most of them from Brazil, and 2,000 international police.
Ban said last week the UN’s three main priorities in Haiti were to save as many people as possible, bring emergency humanitarian aid in the form of water, food and medication, and to coordinate the massive aid effort.
Accompanying Ban in Haiti were the head of the UN Development Program Helen Clark, Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Alain LeRoy, UN humanitarian chief John Holmes and Susana Malcorra, who is in charge of UN field support operations.