3.9 million Southern Sudanese at the polls, Fisher briefs on Haiti progress a year on, and more from UN Direct

Sudan: yesterday, the polls opened for the Referendum in Southern Sudan, which will run through January 15.  Approximately 3.9 million are registered to vote, including 3.7 million in the South, over 100,000 in the North and 60,000 outside of Sudan.  The Chairman of the SG’s Panel on the Referendum said “the turnout in the first day has been overwhelming but officials have coped very well…”  Violence has, however, has been reported in Abyei, which has resulted in deaths.  UNMIS is currently assessing the situation.

Haiti: today DSRSG for Haiti and Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator Nigel Fisher briefed the press via teleconference on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake on Wednesday, January 12.  In his remarks, Fisher said the initial humanitarian response was a success and by  April 2010, the UN provided shelter for 1.5 million people, 11,000 latrines had been established in camps and basic water and sanitation had been provided.  Significantly, an assessment of children after five showed they were healthier than before the earthquake – a commentary on the humanitarian response.  On cholera, Fisher reported approximately 3,600 deaths and warned that more can be expected.  As of January 2011, there are an estimated 810,000 people living in camps, down from the peak of 1.5 million in 2010.  Looking ahead to 2011, Fisher said the Reconstruction Commission has approved $3 billion in projects, and that 2011 is likely to accelerate development work in the country, including on the agricultural sector.

LCDs & Rio: today the first PrepCom for the 4th UN Conference on the LDCs (to be held in Istanbul in Spring of 2011) began, which runs through the 14th in NY.  Also today, an Intersessional meeting in preparation of the Rio+20/Earth Summit/Conference on Sustainable Development (to be held in Rio in 2012) began in NY, which will run through tomorrow.