By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
February 13, 2012
Leaders of the 15-member Caribbean Community, of which Haiti is a part, joined U.N. Security Council members on separate visits to a post-quake Haiti this week.
Haiti will host two important visiting delegations in the coming days as leaders of the Caribbean Community and ambassadors from the United Nations Security Council touch ground in the post-quake nation within hours of each others Monday.The four-member delegation from the Caribbean Community will visit Haiti Monday and Tuesday, while the 15-members of the U.N. Security Council will depart Port-au-Prince on Thursday for New York.
Suriname President Desiré Delano Bouterse, who is leading the Caricom delegation, arrived at 12:30 p.m. Monday to begin two days of talks in hope of assessing Haiti’s priorities and how the 15-member mostly English-speaking community can assist.
“The visit will also serve to emphasize continued support for the country in its reconstruction and development efforts following the 2010 earthquake and explore ways for strengthening Haiti’s participation in Caricom,” Caricom said in a press statement on its visit.
Bouterse is being joined by immediate past Caricom chairman, St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas; incoming community chairman St. Lucia Prime Minister Kenny Anthony and Caricom Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.
Also accompanying the heads is former Jamaica Prime Minister P.J. Patterson. Patterson served as the community’s representative on the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission before its 18-month mandate expired in October.
A vocal critic of Haiti’s slow pace of recovery from massive January 2010 earthquake, Patterson told The Miami Herald last month, while visiting Haiti on the second anniversary, that Caricom supports an extension of the commission but wants to see more Haitian involvement. The commission’s renewal has remained in limbo despite assurances by both President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Garry Conille that they support its extension.
“We believe as an essential part of its mandate, it must prepare an authority in Haiti with the capacity to take over, when its life, if renewed finally expires,” Patterson said.
At the same time Patterson said the international community must keep its promises. Of the $4.5 billion in pledges for Haiti’s rebuilding, only 52.88 percent has been disbursed, according to the website of the U.N. Special Envoy.
“We have a lot of stepping up to do and the international community has to step up to the plate so that they can deliver what has been promised and working with the Haitian people we can see not only the recovery and the reconstruction, but even more so the development of Haiti,” Patterson said.
In a news release, Haiti’s National Palace said Martelly plans to address several issues with the delegation including the adoption of French as an official language of Caricom and having Haiti take the chairmanship in July 2013. Haiti and Suriname are the only two non-English speaking members of the 15-member Caribbean Community.
Also scheduled to arrive Monday is a 15-member delegation from the U.N. Security Council led by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice. The group plans to spend four days assessing the situation on the ground where there remains hostility in some sectors toward U.N. peacekeepers following a cholera outbreak, and allegations of rape of Haitian youths by peacekeepers.
On Monday, human rights groups urged council members to “evaluate the cost of the U.N.’s failure to take responsibility for the epidemic of cholera introduced by troops from the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), in terms of Haitian lives lost and damage to the U.N.’s reputation.”
The Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti have filed suit against the global body. They are representing 5,000 victims of the epidemic, which has killed more than 7,000 and sickened a half million since October 2010.
“Security Council members should talk to cholera victims — young children who lost their parents, families who spent all they had on medical treatment and burials, communities decimated by the disease” said BAI Attorney Mario Joseph. “I am confident that if they see the cost of the U.N. cholera on the Haitian people, they will do what they need to do to provide the clean water infrastructure necessary to control the epidemic. If they do not, the killing will go on and on.”
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