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Aid Groups Should Work To Make Haiti Self-Sufficient, Former President Clinton Says

Former President Bill Clinton asked aid groups working in Haiti on Thursday to focus on making the nation more self-sufficient, the Associated Press reports. Clinton, the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, spoke ahead of a U.N. donor conference on rebuilding Haiti next week.  

“Every time we spend a dollar in Haiti from now on we have to ask ourselves, ‘Does this have a long-term return? Are we helping them become more self-sufficient? … Are we serious about working ourselves out of a job?'” Clinton said. According to the news service, “Clinton asked the groups to allocate 10 percent of their spending in Haiti for government salaries and employee training, to help the nation’s agencies rebuild their decimated staffs.” He recommended aid groups hire locally and coordinate with local authorities and the government, according to the AP.

“The former president also urged the groups to participate in an online registry and make their expenditures transparent. And he warned that unless they take action to move refugees to higher ground, as many as 40,000 people could be killed if there are heavy rains,” the AP writes (Gross, 3/26).

Meanwhile, Rene Preval, the Haitian President, is expected to “join U.S. and United Nations leaders next week in seeking $3.9 billion to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure,” Bloomberg/BusinessWeek reports. “The U.N., World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank will present a 250-page reconstruction plan at a donors’ conference in New York on March 31, according to Jordan Ryan, director of the U.N. Development Program’s crisis prevention and recovery unit.

Ryan said as many as 60 nations may pledge new funds,” the news service writes. Preval is also expected to submit, on behalf of the government, a 50-page “Vision and Plan” for redevelopment, according to Ryan, who was one of the leaders involved with a recent rebuilding assessment report. He noted that the $3.9 billion will cover about two years of reconstruction. The total price tag has been estimated at $11.5 billion.

“U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.N. Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon will join Preval in opening the daylong conference at the U.N. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the U.N.’s special envoy for Haiti, also will speak at the conference, which foreign ministers of France and Japan are expected to attend, Ryan said” (Varner, 3/26).

Kristalina Georgieva, the EU’s aid commissioner, said Thursday that the EU is likely to pledge a three-year 1.3 billion euro ($1.73 billion) aid package at the U.N. conference next week, Reuters reports. “We will be there for a long time. We’re not looking at this as a short-term recovery project,” said Georgieva. “The EU, one of Haiti’s largest donors, committed over 300 million euros ($400 million) in initial aid,” according to the news service (3/25).

Media Outlets Report On Health Stories From Haiti

The Boston Globe examines the situation facing “Wings of Hope, a home for youngsters with disabilities high in the hills above Port-au-Prince.” According to the newspaper, “Though the Wings building did not fall, an architect deemed it structurally unsound. … Wings of Hope managed to rent two adjoining houses not far from the old building. But the conditions are difficult. … The dorm rooms are crowded, the tiny bathrooms cramped and dirty. On a chilly morning, most of the children’s feet were bare, and the cold tile floors were slick with muddy footprints.” The home didn’t have running water and had “only intermittent electricity” before the earthquake hit, according to the Boston Globe. “Mostly run by graduates of the St. Joseph’s program for street boys and former child slaves, it had only a few staff members with degrees of any kind, including one full-time nurse” (Wangsness, 3/26).

The Times of London looks at how Haiti’s impending rainy season could pose significant threats to homeless earthquake survivors: ” The rains, when they come, do not fall gently: they are tropical deluges that grow increasingly violent over two or three months. At least 1.3 million people — more than a tenth of the country’s population — are still homeless. They are living in more than 460 makeshift camps, many built on patches of wasteland that were vacant for the good reason that they were prone to mudslides or flash floods, or were dry riverbeds. At least 200,000 Haitians are reckoned to be vulnerable; as many as 37,000 especially so, while many more are at risk of epidemics caused by insanitary conditions. More than 300,000 of the homeless are children.” The article also discusses how aid groups and the U.S. government are dealing with the situation (Fletcher, 3/26).

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