(01 March 2010) The 15 bodies and agencies of the United Nations System in Chile met with representatives of the Chilean government today to coordinate the assistance requested by Chilean officials after an 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country on February 27.
During a meeting convened today at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) by its Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena, Chilean Foreign Ministry representative Gastón Sarmiento informed the directors of U.N. agencies and bodies of the government's main requirements in international assistance. Chile's Undersecretary of Health, Jeanette Vega, also participated in the meeting.
The Chilean officials stressed that the priority at this time is assistance in health and communications, particularly field hospitals with surgical capacity, power generators to store medicine, water purifier systems, autonomous dialysis centers and vaccines, especially against hepatitis A.
The first 45 satellite telephones will arrive late this week.
Assistance and equipment should be funneled through Chile's National Emergency Bureau (ONEMI) of the Interior Ministry and the Health Ministry.
"The country is now in the most critical stage of saving lives. The time will come for a socio-economic impact of the disaster for recovery planning, a process in which we can also collaborate", said Bárcena.
The United Nations representatives said they have been able to contact almost all of the 978 staff and consultants in the country, and fortunately, so far there have been no reports of deaths or injuries.
Representatives of the following United Nations bodies and agencies based in Santiago will hold daily evaluation meetings under the coordination of ECLAC: UNHCR, ECLAC, FAO, OHCHR, UNAIDS, PAHO/WHO, IOM, ILO, UNDP, WFP, ITU, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF and UNIFEM.
For more information, contact ECLAC's Information Services. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ; telephone: (56 9) 79678306.