Dozens of nations and organizations Wednesday pledged almost $10 billion in immediate and long-term aid to help Haiti recover from the recent devastating earthquake, just hours after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a day-long donors’ conference yesterday in New York by calling for the wholesale rebuilding of the country.
Of that amount more than $5 billion has been pledged for the next 18 months, well above the $3.9 billion sought for that period.
“Today, the international community has come together, dramatically, in solidarity with Haiti and its people,” Mr. Ban said in a closing news conference at UN Headquarters in New York. “Today, the United Nations are united for Haiti,” he said. “Today, we have mobilized to give Haiti and its people what they need most: hope for a new future. We have made a good start, we need now to deliver.”
Haiti’s President René Préval expressed his thanks on behalf of his nine million countrymen. “The international community has done their part,” he said. “Now it is up to the Haitian people to do theirs.”
Opening the conference earlier today, Mr. Ban appealed to donors to provide $11.5 million over the next 10 years to help the Caribbean nation recover and rebuild after the 12 January quake.
“What we envision, today, is wholesale national renewal… a sweeping exercise in national-building on a scale and scope not seen in generations,” he told delegates from more than 130 nations attending the high-level meeting.
Mr. Ban said reconstruction work must move in tandem with emergency relief and urged donors to provide further support to the revised humanitarian appeal for Haiti. That appeal is calling for $1.4 billion, but is currently only 50 percent funded.
“The rainy season is fast approaching. Some camps for displaced persons are at risk of flooding. Heath and sanitation issues are growing more serious,” Mr. Ban said.
Mr. Préval, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and UN Special Envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton co-hosted the conference, entitled Towards a New Future in Haiti.
They noted the courage and solidarity shown by the Haitians in the midst of the unprecedented suffering resulting from the quake and the outpouring of generosity and support from the country’s international partners. At the same time, they underscored that Haiti’s road to recovery will be a long one and one which will require continued global support.
The conference was co-chaired by Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France, and Spain as leading donors to Haiti, which was already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere before the disaster.
The January 12 quake struck close to the capital, Port-au-Prince, and resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 people. It also left one third of the country’s nine million people in need of aid.
The total value of damage and losses sustained has been calculated at approximately $7 billion, according to the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
Its Administrator, Helen Clark, voiced hope that today’s conference “will pave the way for building back better in Haiti. With sufficient resources, the vision presented today by the Government of Haiti on behalf of Haitian people can become reality.”
She also emphasized the need for Haitian ownership of the recovery process, with international assistance being aligned with the country’s priorities.
“With the necessary resources, we can assist the Government to develop effective social protection to combat extreme poverty; we can help improve access to education, health services, and clean water and sanitation; and we can help promote food security and nutrition,” Miss Clark said.
Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive presented the country’s needs and its plans for recovery, following which countries, international organizations, and other partners took the floor to pledge resources, to coordinate in support of Haiti’s long-term recovery and to commit to a sustained effort to support the country.
General Assembly President Ali Treki urged participants at the meeting to further support reconstruction efforts, and hoped that the pledges made by the international community “would be commensurate with the needs of the people and Government of Haiti and firmly pave the way to a brighter future.”