Surviving the Haiti earthquake: a UN staffers story



This is Lennon from UN news in twenty ten a devastating earthquake hit hating reportedly killing up to two hundred and twenty thousand people including one hundred to u n personnel. One of those who survived was feet Bhutto lacob head of communications for the UN mission for Justice in Haiti otherwise known as miniaturist Saturday marks nine years since the earthquake a chance for Sophie to share with you a news her memories of the twelfth of January two thousand ten and reflect on Haiti's current ability to withstand disasters. I spoke to Sophie and started by asking what happens to her and her colleagues when the quake struck well on that day. I was in a meeting in my office with colleagues from the six floor, and when the quake, heat, we just followed all the reflects that I learned from my experience in Martinique. We went back and. On the tables just stick to our selves for of what could fold on from the woes after when it stopped from taking. I went out and checked on the over colleagues. That's where are the over places. And and there was everywhere. These y dust coming from the walls and everybody wasn't shop. The ASTA me to go down from a ladder that the media trees had time to put on the window and all so I prefer because I was very pregnant from seven months and a house I prefer to find an overweight out because we always have aftermath after enough quick any take the ladder. So we looked for never exit and we find a wool that collapsed. Allowing us to go out and walked out up to the entrance. And there was nothing left. That means the six floors of the building had totally collapsed. I was on the main. Floor and I had this. Phrase in my mind, saying you will do with this information letter not to be emotional. I don't know why my my mind saved that to me. And and then I so everybody around me in shop, very emotional, and I was very clean minded. So I asked everyone and security, especially to make sure they closed the gate. So we would have everybody accounted for because people were running around everywhere. And we need to know how many people are still in the building blocked on the rebels and who is outside and to organize ourselves. So we had unfortunately, the head of the mission of the presentative of the secretary general mysterious Annabi, and he's depew team stone Deco-style that where still missing another the rubble and we organize ourselves. We've the deputy force commander at that time who was vic-, and we the Filipinos. Who were at the issues, and it was four hours hours ended the night came and we had dig likes on the rubbles just to help get our could exert where still blocked under eight on the days that followed. We were transported to the logistical days in in port au prince not far away from the H Kubat near the airport, and we organized ourselves. I was deputy chief communication at that time and spokesperson, so I asked the chief communication what can I do to help? And he said well sofi if you can take care of yourself and go back home that would be the most helpful because I was very pregnant at that said, seven months and a half and my replacement for my maternity leave was already there and prepared. So everything was under control in the communication side. So I- south evacuated two days after on. First day because the of quake was on a Tuesday. But knowing that you had lost colleagues and colleagues have been injured in the people that you helping in Haiti been injured was it difficult for you to leave. H was really a trauma? But at that time, I had no solution. I was not very much of a help. I could not do match the person who was there. Just a to be the spokesperson. When would be unnatural not eve was already prepared to to give the interviews. So it was better for them to do it and me just to get back home and deliver the baby. But I came back. I came back during the summer after the match leave, and I did the transition between the two chief communications. And that was really a very emotional for me because coming back in Haiti six months after the situation was really really difficult steel, and a lot was needed at all level humanitarian level of support level. There was a lot of attention from the international community. And so I was glad to be there. And to be able to speak about what was needed, but I was getting emotional in every interview. So that was not very proficient on so I decided to leave any broke my heart because I had been six years in Haiti already, but I needed to rebuild myself to be able to be back in good shape to help the Asians and to help Michalis, which I did in two thousand thirteen when I came back a nine they're still determine you describe what it was like for you coming back in two thousand thirteen that was a mix of feelings. I the feelings of joy to be back in to be able to work with the colleagues alongside them to help rebuild the country and finish a work with the mandate of the new staff the United nation mission for stabilization in Haiti. There was so much to do steel. And that was all. Also, a very much sadness because of all the Las colleagues, but the suddenness was more was stronger, obviously, any still there will always be there. So we have to just leave of it. And an owner our colleagues by the worker doing. That's that's the most important. Those heights is still at risk from natural disasters such as earthquakes, do you think the country is more resilient now if another of quake is to is to hit the country. Of course, what when it happened in two thousand ten minister had a lot of military's being present. We had engineers, and we were able to do a lot of words to just clear the roles and from the Ruggles and to help rebuild roads. And today, we've miniatures the new mission. It's absolutely not the same. The new mission is a mission for Justice support. We don't have military's anymore. We have an international police officers in all the departments that they are supported. They are supporting the high commandment of the national police four implementation of the strategic plan. So it's it's not the same. And of course, if there would be a earthquake today, the Asian themselves would have to take care of. And they have now prepared for that. And the population itself is very much prepared. We hear regularly when there is a quake like we. We had few months ago enough quaking the north of the country. The the state was prepared to react end descent. There are people there to check on those that were affected and providing support without a new news involvement. So they were ready doing it. Of course, it was not a major quake in the capital has we had in two thousand ten but the population now news how to react when the reserve quake how to protect themselves they know much better. And most importantly we hear regularly. How important it is to build better to build strongly in case in her quake would hit not to endanger the people.

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