26 January 2010 | Helen Gilbert
The United Nations (UN) is gearing up to relieve shocked procurement staff in Haiti following the devastating earthquake that struck just over a fortnight ago.
Paul Buades, the UN’s director of procurement, told SM that the natural disaster had “fostered extraordinary solidarity among the procurement community in the UN secretariat”.
Buades said his office had been flooded with applications from procurement colleagues across the world eager to offer their support.
“Our call for relief has been responded to by all procurement staff from the secretariat across the world and we have received 46 applications,” he said.
There are currently two international purchasers in Haiti, as well as local staff based at Minustah, the UN’s stabilisation mission in the country. Buades said the plan was to replace the international staff and temporarily boost numbers to face the surge of requirements over the next three to four months as aid efforts continue. He did not say how many extra members of staff were needed.
There would be some selection criteria – staff would have to speak French or Spanish to work in Haiti or the Dominican Republic – but Buades said he was confident of having the resources to relieve the Minustah procurement team at short notice.
He explained: “Staff from all the places [including the] UN headquarters in New York, the field missions, the office away from headquarters, everyone has proposed assistance and we are preparing the replacement of the procurement staff of Minustah to give them relief after such a shock.”
Buades described the situation in Haiti as complex with disrupted supply chains. He said the country’s infrastructure was “totally overloaded”.
The UN secretariat procurement division does not serve the humanitarian effort but provides for the military, police and civilian personnel.