The commitment grew from a conference of 19 foreign ministers and international organizations, known informally as the
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that 10 years of hard work — at least — awaits the world in
The meeting produced few details about the scope of the damage from
By then, Clinton said, the U.N. should have completed a review of all the needs in
and the rest of the Haitian provinces, and their estimated costs. With
emergency relief and rubble rescues still ongoing in the Haitian
capital, a larger picture of the devastation and its long-term effects
has yet to emerge.
“The extent of the devastation is almost more than any of us can grasp,” Clinton said.
was noticeably uncomfortable discussing long-term reconstruction plans
while tens of thousands of people in his country went another day
searching for food, water and shelter.
Amid discussions of donor countries’ deference to
Haitian sovereignty, Bellerive made an urgent plea for 200,000 tents
needed to shelter displaced victims, and prosthetics for those who lost
limbs in the catastrophe.
“I could continue on all of these emergencies; there
are many,” he said. “It is very difficult for me to talk reconstruction
when we do not take these matters into account.”
Bellerive said it would likely take four or five years just to restore
to what it once was — a sprawling city with too many people and too few
jobs, where much of the population lacked electricity or running water.
But the effects of the earthquake go far beyond the
city. Bellerive said the entire country may have to be remade, as the
“The redistribution of people has changed the whole country,” Bellerive said.
The ministers all agreed that any future
redevelopment plans must be led by the Haitian government, not the
international community. How these parties will coordinate is far from
clear, though Clinton offered the tsunami recovery as an example, in
“It’s important that we see ourselves as partners with
Still unclear is how much any reconstruction plan may cost.
But Bellerive did not broach the subject during the
meeting, and in a news conference he told reporters that the government
has not made any estimate or formulated an amount of money to request.
In addition to discussing coordination, the foreign
ministers also heard reports from a handful of aid groups and
nongovernmental organizations working in
Some groups used the conference to push for debt relief.
Critics have said such lending practices have stifled development in
— one 2008 study found that the Haitian government devoted more of its
budget to debt payments than to health, education and the environment
combined. In the past, the U.S. aid package to
“It would be obscene at this time to be spending money on paying off the debts of the past,” said
Before Monday”s conference, Clinton signaled her
support for debt relief, telling reporters: “I think that’s a very
important piece of the puzzle.”
Last summer, the burden on
In the days after the earthquake, the U.N. made an appeal for
A revised appeal will be issued in 12 months. “We need significantly more,” Holmes said.
(c) 2010, The Miami Herald.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.