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CARICOM stands ready to do all in its power to assist Haiti and play a prominent role in its reconstruction, the community’s representative to Tuesday’s Ministerial Preparatory Conference in Montreal, Canada, former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P. J. Patterson, said.
“As small economies, our resources may be limited, but not our willingness to assist,” Mr. Patterson told the one-day conference, hosted by the Government of Canada to pave the way for a larger donor co-ordination conference on Haiti’s reconstruction which should take place later this year.
He noted that CARICOM has already provided more than 400 response personnel, including military and medical, as well as search and rescue teams.
Tonnes 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.
He 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 nought. 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.
Mr. 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, Hon. 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.
He also suggested 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.
Mr. Patterson was making his presentation to the Preparatory Conference, which was called to establish a clear and common vision, within the international community, for the early recovery and longer-term reconstruction of Haiti. It is seen as the first step to reaching that goal.
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 co-ordinate 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.
A major earthquake struck southern Haiti on Tuesday, January 12, knocking down buildings and power lines and causing death and injury to hundreds of thousands of Haitians.