Haiti earthquake: IDB redirects resources for emergency assistance and reconstruction

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Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno called today for an urgent international response to Haiti's devastating earthquake and pledged to redirect millions of dollars in IDB grants to support assistance and reconstruction efforts.

"On behalf of the IDB, I would like to express our deepest condolences and solidarity with the people of Haiti," Moreno said. "We are working closely with other donor agencies and member nations to assist in emergency relief efforts and we stand prepared to help our member nation in its hour of need."

In a briefing to the IDB's Board of Executive Directors, Moreno said that the Bank can play a key role in rebuilding infrastructure and basic services in Port-au-Prince, which was hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday. The IDB's Haiti portfolio currently holds some $330 million in undisbursed funds, of which $90 million could be quickly redirected to high-priority civil works and reconstruction projects.

In addition, the IDB expects to approve up to $128 million in new grants for Haiti this year, potentially providing more resources for reconstruction.

President Moreno plans to attend a United Nations donors conference for Haiti Thursday in New York and meet with senior Latin American government officials in Washington later this week. He called on the international community to redouble its efforts to help Haiti after the Caribbean island nation's worst natural disaster in more than 200 years. On Tuesday evening he announced that the IDB will provide the Haitian government a $200,000 emergency grant for immediate relief aid. The IDB is also establishing an emergency relief fund for its own employees to contribute donations.

Although communications with Haiti remain sporadic and difficult, President Moreno said that IDB staff based in Port-au-Prince and their dependents were reported safe. Efforts are underway to evacuate non-essential personnel to the Dominican Republic or to a secure location outside the Haitian capital city.

In addition, the IDB is working to ensure the continuity of its operations in Haiti by keeping a minimum staff in Port-au-Prince. As the IDB office building suffered heavy damage, an alternate base of operations will also be established.

The IDB has been working in Haiti for 50 years and is its leading source of multilateral financing, supporting investments in sectors such as transportation, electricity, water, education, health and agriculture.