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World Bank Cancels $36M Haitian Debt

“The World Bank said on Friday it has written off $36 million of Haiti’s remaining debts to the lender with the help of contributions from 13 countries,” Reuters reports. Haiti owed money to the bank’s International Development Association (IDA), the fund for the “poorest borrowers,” the news service writes.

The debt cancelation “will free up funds – which would have been spent on servicing the IDA debt – for rebuilding after Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12 earthquake,” according to the news service. Since the quake, the World Bank has pledged $479 million in grants for Haiti’s reconstruction through June 2011. “It is also supervising an international donor fund for Haiti through which contributions will be funneled,” the news service writes (Wroughton, 5/28).

“Relieving Haiti’s remaining debt is part of our effort to pursue every avenue to help Haiti’s reconstruction efforts,” Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, said in a statement, according to The Hill’s “On the Money” blog. “We will continue to work in close cooperation with the Haitian government and our international partners to support the country’s recovery and longer-term development” (Needham, 5/28).

News Outlets Examine Reconstruction, Hurricane Season Preparation On The Ground

“A hurricane season predicted to be one of the wettest on record opens Tuesday in the Caribbean,” the Associated Press reports in an article examining the possible effect on Haitian earthquake survivors who still only have temporary shelter. “The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted as many as 23 named tropical storms, which would make this season one of the more active on record.”

“The Haitian government, which had five months to prepare, says it’s still working on emergency and evacuation plans. But it is unclear where people will go with many churches, schools and other potential shelters toppled by the quake. … there has been little progress on clearing rubble so people can return to their neighborhoods or building sturdier shelters,” the AP writes.

“There’s no question that large numbers, tens of thousands, are going to be in situations of misery when the rains come,” said Jean Pape, a “prominent” public health expert in Haiti, who estimates that 1 percent of survivors living in flood-prone areas have been relocated. The article looks at the health consequences of major floods and reports on existing plans to deal with rain emergencies (Fox, 5/31).

As reconstruction slowly continues, the New York Times examines Haitian attitudes towards the effort. “While few have given up entirely on the dream that a more efficient, more just Haiti might rise from the rubble, increasingly, hope is giving way to stalemate and bitterness. ‘Is this really it?’ Haitians ask. They complain that the politically connected are benefiting most from reconstruction work that has barely begun. They shake their heads at crime’s coming back, unproductive politicians and aid groups that are struggling with tarpaulin metropolises that look more permanent every day,” according to the New York Times.

The article includes perspectives on government and local leadership and looks at some of the challenges to development (Cave, 5/29).

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