WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. – Haitian president René Préval has urged international leaders to expedite their pledges of financial help to his country, as it faces “an immense challenge” to rebuild after the devastating earthquake on Jan. 12.
The donations, which total US$11 billion, will produce “a more decentralized, fairer Haiti,” he said at the World Summit for the Future of Haiti, held earlier this week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
So far, only Brazil has delivered the US$55 million it pledged in its entirety, according to Haitian officials as quoted by Agence France-Presse.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, co-chair of a commission that oversees reconstruction in Haiti, also requested donors to fulfill their pledges and reiterated all reconstruction and relief projects be consistent with Haiti’s needs.
“It’s their recovery plan because it’s their country,” Clinton said according to The Miami Herald.
Préval said donations will help improve the country’s democratic institutions, an integral element of the reconstruction effort.
“Without political stability, without democracy, our project is doomed to fail,” Préval said.
Préval urged Haitians to prepare for elections, as he’s ready to leave office when his term ends on Feb. 7. International organizations, including the United Nations, already are assisting electoral efforts in the impoverished nation.
“The people in Haiti demand a political system that is earthquake proof, and that is called democracy, with social justice, effective administration, and that is chosen by the people,” Préval said.
“We are working with the United Nations in the next presidential, legislative and local elections and we are going to support the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) in the updating of the electoral registry, in the organization of the civic education campaign, in the adequate functioning of the tabulation centers and in the use of computerized electoral programs,” José Manuel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS) said at the summit.
Multilateral organizations also are supporting Haiti financially.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Union will each provide US$50 million, and the World Bank will provide US$30 million to cover a shortfall in the country’s deficit, according to the summit’s website.
The IDB pledged US$200 million in grants during the next five years to strengthen land tenure rights, boost agricultural production, increase market access for farmers and reinforce food security in Haiti, according to its website.
Summit participants also addressed a major need in Haiti: shelter for the homeless to protect them from what is expected to be a very harsh hurricane season, which began this week.
“We have more than one million people that are currently living in very precarious conditions, in camping tents,” Clinton said. “We cannot allow for people to die during this hurricane season because they inhabit temporary dwellings.”
The U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), through its humanitarian assistance branch New Horizons and in coordination with the Haitian government, will build schools, clinics, and community centers that also can serve as hurricane shelters. New Horizons also will provide medical services.
The medical staff aboard the USS Iwo Jima will provide basic medical care and perform specialized surgeries when it is scheduled to arrive in the Port-de-Paix area in July.