Prime Minister Reports on Outcome of Emergency Meeting on Haiti

Report
from Government of the Bahamas
Published on 18 Jan 2010 View Original
Bahamas Information Services

Remarks by Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham

Report on Emergency Meeting on Haiti - Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

THE PRIME MINISTER: The meeting was called by President Lionel Fernandez of Dominican Republic at the behest of Spain and the EU. The meeting's objective was to begin to build a consensus for an appropriate international response to the destruction of catastrophic proportions in Haiti.

In attendance was President Preval of Haiti, the Prime Ministers of Jamaica, Barbados, Dominica, and Trinidad and Tobago, the Vice-president of Spain, representatives of the Governments of the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Chile as well as representatives from the UN, the EU, World Bank, OAS, IDB and the International Red Cross.

The Meeting applauded the initial international response to what has been the greatest crisis in Haiti's 200 year history and one of the world's most grave natural disasters in recent decades. The meeting noted that the earthquake had led to the death of tens of thousands in Haiti, left hundreds of thousands homeless and unemployed.

Haiti, which had special vulnerabilities before the earthquake as evidenced by its run down and in some cases non-existent infrastructure is now in urgent need of reconstruction of its roads, bridges, ports, airport facility, public buildings, health facilities, public utilities - electricity, telephone and water. Most important is the creation of an economy capable of creating jobs.

Discussions centred around the development of a Strategic Plan for the reconstruction of Haiti extending beyond the immediate needs for water, food, housing, medicine, medical care and clothing.

A number of countries and organizations outlined their contributions to emergency and reconstruction during the meeting as follows:

1. the World Bank is making $100 million for infrastructural reconstruction

2. USA $100 million plus a number of additional assistance underway

3. EU Commission and member states - 306 Euros equivalent to some $440 million.

4. Brazil $50 million

5. OAS $10 million

6. Mexico $ 8 million

This is in addition to other tens of millions being expended by Canada on a number of different initiatives and projects.

There was discussion of a proposal to convert some $470 million of IDB loans to Haiti into Grants. Further consideration is to be given to converting some $340 million in approved projects through the IDB into emergency projects funding.

Caricom has not yet agreed the size of its contribution to the Haiti emergency relief and reconstruction initiative. This remains under consideration. The size and form of Caricom assistance is likely to be informed by the results of the Strategic Plan for the reconstruction of Haiti.

The RBDF has two platoons (30 persons each) and a Bahamas Class vessel on standby for deployment to Haiti if and when conditions warrant and or require.

The Conference took note of the difficulty of distribution of supplies in Haiti; hence notwithstanding the commendable and overwhelming contribution by the international community distribution of supplies to the people remained bottlenecked.

It was noted that a critical matter to be considered by those coming to Haiti to provide direct assistance is that all individuals coming to Haiti must be self-contained as to shelter, food and supplies.

In an effort to better coordinate emergency relief and reconstruction the Haitian Government had agreed that security and organization in the capital city would be given to the USA.

Areas outside of the capital city will fall under the organization and direction of Canadian forces.

It was noted that overall security matters will continue to be led by the UN Forces and that notwithstanding the considerable increase in US manpower, the US would not replace the UN as lead security personnel.

The meeting agreed to establish a Coordinating Committee comprising of representatives from the following countries and agencies:

Haiti, D.R., Caricom, UN, OAS, Rio group, USA, Canada, Brazil, IDB, Canada and the USA. The Committee is to be mandated to develop a strategic plan for the reconstruction of Haiti. In the case of Caricom, it is proposed to appoint the former Jamaican Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson as our representative on the Committee.

The Meeting also took note of a Donor's Meeting at Ministerial level scheduled to take place on the 25th January in Montreal, Canada.