Special Envoy on Haiti Disaster Relief, the Most Hon. P. J. Patterson, has suggested several long term measures for the rebuilding of the earthquake ravaged nation, Haiti, which he says will ensure the rebirth of the country.
“Simply putting back what was there before the earthquake will not be enough,” he said, adding that a “renaissance, the rebirth of a new Haiti on the economic side, the social side, in terms of human development and in terms of the environment,” should be developed.
Mr. Patterson, who was addressing journalists at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston on February 6, following the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) mission to Haiti, provided an update for Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
He said that, “CARICOM has to recognise that Haiti is its most populous member state and we have an opportunity of moving Haiti from what is usually described as the bottom of the misery totem pole into a nation that reflects pride and history of persons who won their freedom over 200 years ago.”
Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding (right), consults with Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Prime Minister of Dominica, Mr. Roosevelt Skerritt, during a media briefing in the VIP lounge at the Norman Manley International Airport, in Kingston, on February 6. Mr. Golding was given an update on CARICOM’s mission to earthquake ravaged Haiti.
To this end, he noted that CARICOM Heads will be helping to accelerate this process in accordance with their portfolio responsibilities, in terms of governance, sustainable development, internal negotiations, and health issues, “which will enable the establishment of institutional links with Haiti, so that we can work together to achieve our ends.”
He emphasised that CARICOM has to come to Haiti’s assistance to replenish and strengthen the institutional capacity at this time, pointing out that with the demolition of some of the major institutional offices in the country, this has to be addressed.
Mr. Patterson said that the presence of CARICOM has been felt in relation to health, distribution of key relief supplies and the maintenance of law and order in an effort to strengthen the nation’s capacity.
He pointed out that a number of regional institutions have been in contact, indicating a willingness to help, adding that all these skills need to be mobilised with the inclusion of the Diaspora.
Mr. Patterson said that the mobilisation of the donor conference and the finalisation of the development plan, which was already established before the disaster occurred on January 12, are critical.
He said that the development plan will have to be re-examined in terms of the priorities, timetable and resources that will be needed, adding that the Haitian administration has already asked for assistance in the course of international advocacy.
“We have to bring the whole collective weight of our diplomatic experience and network to bear in assisting Haiti to make the best presentation of their case. It is accepted that the final result must be a product for which Haiti can claim ownership. If that is to be so, we must ensure at all times that the interests of Haiti are paramount,” Mr. Patterson said.
Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister of Dominica, Mr. Roosevelt Skerritt, noted that the mission to Haiti was to give President Rene Preval an update on what CARICOM has done to date, and the future plans.
“The meeting was very constructive in that we were able to get concurrence and support from the Government of Haiti in respect of the support that CARICOM intends to give in the area of primary healthcare,” he said. Also at the meeting were the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health of Haiti.
The Chairman said that a decision will be made by Monday (February 8), about where a clinic and a mobile hospital will be established in Haiti, by CARICOM.
He commended members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) for the role that they have played so far in Haiti, noting that at an appropriate time, CARICOM will formally recognise their contribution.
The CARICOM delegation to Haiti also included Secretary General of CARICOM, Dr. Edwin Carrington and the Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Colin Grandison.