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Haiti UN Council mission reports strides in security worrisome poverty

19 March 2009Haiti is making strides in security sector and judicial reform but continues to grapple with widespread poverty and vulnerability to disasters, the leader of a United Nations Security Council mission to the impoverished Caribbean nation said today. “It does appear that there is a window of opportunity to enable the consolidation of stability and the undertaking of a process of sustainable development,” said Ambassador Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica,” who had led the four-day fact-finding visit that concluded on 14 March.“It was evident to the mission,” Mr. Urbina noted, on the other hand, “that the current levels of extreme poverty, in which 80 per cent of the people live on under two dollars a day and 50 per cent on under one dollar are incompatible with the goal to establish stability in the short term.” He said that in the last five years, Haiti had reached its goal of putting 14,000 police officers on the streets, and a successful anti-violence programme, carried out in partnership with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), had brought stability to formerly lawless urban areas.Border security had also been strengthened with the assistance of MINUSTAH, he said, and the country was also moving forward with an ambitious programme of judicial and constitutional reform eight elections scheduled over the next three years, which officials assured would be free and fair.However, in addition to the high levels of extreme poverty, local governments were limited in their capacity to provide basic services, even though the Government and MINUSTAH, he were working together to expand the country’s administrative capacity, Mr. Urbina said.In addition, he said, Haiti’s limited economic, social and cultural rights proved worrisome, a situation that was exacerbated by natural disasters, particularly the hurricanes last year that slammed into the city of Gonaïves, as well as the current food and financial crises.During the mission, he said, Japan’s representative had expressed concern that agricultural production, which employed more than half the population, barely covered 48 per cent of Haiti’s food needs. He and other Council members urged Haitian authorities to adopt agricultural policies that would spur production.On the regional front, Council also met with members of the core group of countries interested in Haiti and had observed a high level of commitment to the country among Latin American nations. In addition, he said, Haitian authorities had repeatedly noted their growing interest in South-South cooperation, and the importance of the continued involvement of regional and subregional organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for Haiti’s hemispheric integration. read more

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First Titanic expedition in 14 years reveals ship could be lost forever

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. He added: “It was extraordinary to see it all, and the most amazing moment came when I was going along the side of the Titanic and the bright lights of the submersible reflected off a portal and came right back – it was like the ship was winking at me.”It was amazing.”A total of five dives to the wreck, which lies around 370 miles south of Newfoundland in Canada, were made over eight days using a submergence vehicle.The Titanic, built by Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyard, sank after hitting an iceberg on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 1912, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,500 people. “The captain’s bath tub is a favourite image among the Titanic enthusiasts, and that’s now gone.”Scientist Lori Johnson raised fears that the wreck could be lost forever, saying: “The future of the wreck is going to continue to deteriorate over time, it’s a natural process.  The wreck of the Titanic could be lost forever, say scientists, after the first dive expedition in 14 years showed key parts had been washed away.Explorers making the first manned voyage to the Titanic wreckage in more than a decade said they had uncovered a partial collapse of the ship’s hull and that the Captain’s quarters had also deteriorated heavily.Nearly 13,125ft (4,000m) beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, in water at a bitterly cold one degree, salt corrosion and metal-eating bacteria have worn away parts of the liner’s structure.The team of divers found that the hull near the officers’ quarters on the starboard side of the ship has started to collapse, taking with it the vessel’s luxurious stateroom accommodation, according to exploration company Caladan Oceanic.Titanic historian Park Stephenson said the deterioration of the ship was “shocking”, adding: “That whole deck hole on that side is collapsing, taking with it the staterooms, and the deterioration is going to continue advancing. “These are natural types of bacteria, so the reason that the deterioration process ends up being quite a bit faster, is a group of bacteria, a community working symbiotically to eat, if you will the Iron and the sulphur.”The first ever 4K quality images of the ship were captured during the expedition and will be published alongside a documentary, which is being made by film company Atlantic Productions.The footage will also make it possible to view the wreckage using interactive augmented reality and virtual reality technology.Explorer Victor Vescovo, who is also chief executive of Caladan Oceanic, said he “wasn’t quite prepared” for how large the wreckage is. Titanic historian Park Stephenson said the deterioration of the ship is ‘shocking’Credit:Atlantic Productions / PA Glass portholes on the titanic  The glass portholes are still in good conditionCredit:Atlantic Productions/PA The bow of the titanic read more