Donors Will Gather At U.N. Wednesday To Discuss Haiti Relief, Recovery

At a donors conference beginning on Wednesday at the U.N. in New York, Haitian President Rene Preval will lay out a $3.8 billion plan “to begin radically reshaping his country’s post-earthquake economy and infrastructure,” the Washington Post reports. The plan “marks the first phase of a highly ambitious reconstruction effort that” the Haitian government estimates will cost more than $11 billion over ten years.

The proposal stems from the findings of both Haitian and international specialists in reconstruction, according to the newspaper, and includes “laying 600 kilometers of road through the country to promote trade, tourism and access to health-care centers” (Lynch, 3/30).

The U.N.’s top official in Haiti, Edmond Mulet, “on Monday urged donor nations to respond generously so that the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation can reconstruct hospitals, schools, government buildings, roads and ports. In addition, he said, Haiti needs to ‘rebuild and redesign the country in a way that puts … (it) on the road to growth and modernization,'” the Associated Press reports.

U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will chair the donor conference, and former President Bill Clinton, now U.N. special envoy in Haiti will speak (Lederer, 3/29).

Reuters reports that an earlier appeal by the U.N. “for $1.4 billion in humanitarian aid is 52 percent short of its goal.” U.N. Development Program chief Helen Clark said, “Perhaps the extension of the flash appeal has got a little bit crowded by the fact that this conference – with a big ask for recovery – is coming, so maybe donors have held back a little … if we don’t get the humanitarian relief side right as well you don’t have the foundation for the successful longer term recovery” (Nichols, 3/29).

Ahead of the donors meeting, Oxfam released the results of a survey showing “that of more than 1,700 Haitians polled between March 9-12, 26 percent rated jobs as their top need, followed by schools (22 percent) and homes (10 percent). Next ranked were support for local production (8 percent), the environment (6 percent) and security (5.5 percent),” Reuters reports in a separate story (Fletcher, 3/29).

Tuesday on PBS, FRONTLINE will explore “the camps, hospitals and broken neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince” as well as “the recent history of aid efforts in Haiti and the prospects for real change” (3/30).

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