South Florida Caribbean News
NEW YORK – In a striking display of solidarity with the people and Government of Haiti, the international community pledged $5.3 billion for the next two years and $9.9b for the next three years and beyond to reconstruct the earthquake ravaged country.
Haiti itself had sought initial pledges of $3.9 billion and $11.5 billion over the next decade but the International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti convened by the United States and the United Nations at UN Headquarters, New York, USA on Wednesday 31 March, lived up to its name. “The rendezvous with history” as Haiti ’s President His Excellency Rene Préval described the Conference in his opening remarks had been accomplished. His country’s capital and surrounding areas had been struck by a catastrophic earthquake on 12 January which left close to a quarter million people dead and more than a million homeless.
It is proposed that the resources pledged for the implementation of the Action Plan elaborated by the Government of Haiti with the assistance of its external partners be entrusted to a multilateral donor trust fund supervised by the World Bank. These resources would be used to fund projects agreed by an Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission presided over by the President of Haiti and co-chaired by the Prime Minister of Haiti and the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which Haiti is a Member State , has been given a seat with voting rights on this Commission.
Represented by the Special Representative of the Heads of Government, the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Mr. P.J. Patterson, and Assistant Secretary General Foreign and Community Relations Ambassador Colin Granderson, CARICOM was the only non-financial or non-development institution invited to respond to the presentation of the Haiti plan and needs during the Opening Session that preceded the Pledging Session. The Special Representative pointed out that the Donor Conference was “a defining moment in our collective history as Haiti , donors, development agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations seek to attain an objective which has long eluded us – the sustainable development of Haiti ”.
He added that “we must go beyond relief and recovery to build with the Government of Haiti a land which provides a quality of life for its citizens and future generations which its amazing history and rich culture deserve”. Respect for Haiti ’s sovereignty and Haitian leadership as well as transparency, accountability and equity in the use of these resources were viewed by him as key guiding principles for the reconstruction process.
Underlining that the strengthening of Haiti ’s depleted institutional capacity would be critical to the success or failure of the reconstruction efforts, the CARICOM Special Representative indicated that the Community believed that it could “make a tremendous difference through the skills it could bring to bear in the areas of human resource development and institutional capacity building”.
He concluded that even as the international community committed itself to the renaissance of Haiti , “the continuing precarious conditions in which the internally displaced Haitians found themselves and their urgent needs as the rainy season approached “should not be overlooked”. The sense of urgency needed to be maintained. The Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission should therefore “initiate its work immediately”.
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