CARICOM Wants Top Role In Haiti Reconstruction
January 27, 2010 3 Comments
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) representative at a conference on Haiti has made it clear that the regional grouping wants to and is ready to do all in its power to play a prominent role in that quake-hit country’s reconstruction.
Former Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson sent that clear message yesterday at a one-day Ministerial Preparatory Conference in Canada, hosted by the Government of Canada to pave the way for a larger donor coordination conference which should take place later this year.
“As small economies, our resources may be limited, but not our willingness to assist,” he said, noting that CARICOM has already provided more than 400 response personnel, including military and medical, as well as search and rescue teams since the 7.0-magnitude shook the capital, Port-au-Prince on January 12th.
Tons of emergency supplies to Haiti have been routed through CARICOM’s operational focal point, Jamaica, and the Jamaican Government continues to offer its port facilities, land and sea, as a staging area for international assistance into Haiti, he told the meeting. Patterson also noted that CARICOM supports the notion that Haiti should play a vital role in its own redevelopment.
“Unless there is ownership by those directly affected, the best laid plans will come to naught. In addition to the involvement from the outset of the Haitian authorities, that of civil society and of the people of Haiti is also of overarching importance,” he added.
Patterson suggested that a single, multi-donor reconstruction fund for Haiti should be established, as has been advocated by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning.
“The establishment of such a fund would have a second and critical consequence. It would do away with the impediment presented by the dizzying number of accounting modalities required by individual donors,” he said.
The former Jamaican leader further recommended the involvement of the Haitian Diaspora, as well as the urgent reinforcement of the public functions of the state, including the public service, to ensure that the progress made in the provision of public goods and basic services is sustainable.
Yesterday’s Preparatory Conference was seen as the first step in establishing a clear and common vision, within the international community, for the early recovery and longer-term reconstruction of Haiti. It also provided an opportunity for the donor community, the Haitian government and the United Nations to review progress to date in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Haiti, and to strengthen the international community’s commitment to coordinate relief and recovery efforts. The conference involved the Group of Friends of Haiti, major donors and regional and multilateral partners. A second technical conference is likely to be hosted at the United Nations in New York in March.
The earthquake that struck southern Haiti killed over 150,000 people and left the capital in shambles.
Over 130 people were found in the search and rescue effort that followed the quake. Although the Haitian government called off the search for survivors last weekend, a man was yesterday pulled alive from the rubble, after exactly two weeks of being trapped.