Ban Ki Moon Confirms Death of Haiti UN Mission chief, Hedi Annabi; Delays at PaP Airport

Ban Ki Moon issues a statement confirming the deaths of MINUSTAH chief Hedi Annabi, Deputy mission chief Luiz Carlos da Costa and acting police commissioner Doug Coates. 


I am deeply saddened to confirm the tragic death of my Special Representative to Haiti, Hédi Annabi. His Deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa and the Acting Police Commissioner, Doug Coates of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, are also confirmed to have perished.

In every sense of the word, they gave their lives for peace.

Hédi Annabi, a Tunisian national, was a true citizen of the world. he United Nations was his life and he ranked amongst its most dedicated and committed sons. He was passionate about its mission and its people. He gave of himself fully — with energy, discipline and great bravery. From his start as a desk officer for Cambodia to his involvement in literally every peacekeeping operation the UN launched for over a decade, he was the gold standard of service against which all who had the privilege to work with him were measured.

An icon of UN peacekeeping, there was no better representative of the international civil service. A mild man with the heart of a lion, he is remembered by those who knew him for his dry sense of humour, his integrity and his unparalleled work ethic—he was the first in and the last out every day for his entire career. He was proud of the UN mission in Haiti — proud of its accomplishments in bringing stability and hope to Haiti’s people, proud of his UN staff.

Luiz Carlos da Costa, from Brazil, was for many, many years a legend of UN peacekeeping operations. His extraordinary professionalism and dedication were matched only by his charisma and warmth, and his devotion to his many friends. Over decades, he brought many of the finest and most talented staff to the United Nations. He was a mentor to generations of UN staff. He knew them; he knew their families; and his heart was always open to hear their story and to help them. His legacy lives in the thousands that serve under the blue flag in every corner of the globe.

Doug Coates was a long-serving member of the international law enforcement community. He was a true friend of Haiti and the United Nations. He was a great police officer who believed to his core in the importance of rule of law and justice.

Our hearts are with them, the families and friends of Hédi, Luiz, Doug and the many other UN heroes who gave their lives for Haiti and for the highest ideals of the United Nations. Their dearest wish, I am sure, would be that we carry forward the noble work that they and their colleagues performed so well.

UPDATE:  Sunday morning brings news of further delays at the Port au Prince airport. The United States has taken over command and control of the airport, but the sheer volume of air traffic is seriously slowing down aid efforts.  This New York Times piece does a good job explaining what is going on. The bottom line is that the U.S. mlitary and aid agencies have different prorities concerning the types of flights that should be let in to the Port au Prince airport.  This has expectedly caused some tension.  Consider this note from Doctors without Borders that just arrived in my inbox.   

Port-au-Prince/Paris /New York, 17 January 2009 — Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urges that its cargo planes carrying essential medical and surgical material be allowed to land in Port-au-Prince in order to treat thousands of wounded waiting for vital surgical operations. Priority must be given immediately to planes carrying lifesaving equipment and medical personnel. Despite guarantees, given by the United Nations and the US Defense Department, an MSF cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital was blocked from landing in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, and was re-routed to Samana, in Dominican Republic. All material from the cargo is now being sent by truck from Samana, but this has added a 24-hour delay for the arrival of the hospital.

A second MSF plane is currently on its way and scheduled to land today in Port- au-Prince at around 10 am local time with additional lifesaving medical material and the rest of the equipment for the hospital. If this plane is also rerouted then the installation of the hospital will be further delayed, in a situation where thousands of wounded are still in need of life saving treatment.

The inflatable hospital includes two operating theaters, an intensive care unit, 100-bed hospitalization capacity, an emergency room and all the necessary equipment needed for sterilizing material.

MSF teams are currently working around the clock in 5 different hospitals in Port-au-Prince, but only two operating theaters are fully functional, while a third operating theater has been improvised for minor surgery due to the massive influx of wounded and lack of functional referral structures.