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Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Mr. Roosevelt Skerritt, has said that the spirit and strength of the Haitian people remain high, despite the earthquake which devastated sections of the island on January 12.
“They are resilient. They are out rebuilding the homes, helping to clean neighbourhoods, selling on the streets, a lot of commerce is taking place. So, the people are back to work, so to speak. I believe once we can get more help into Haiti to provide tents and housing, we will certainly see a resurgence in the economy, but the people are in high spirits. Generally speaking, the people are taking charge of their future,” he said.
Mr. Skerritt, who is also Prime Minister of Dominica, was speaking at a press conference, held at the Norman Manley International Airport on February 6, shortly after a CARICOM mission returned from Haiti, where members of the delegation met with President Rene Preval, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health.
The press conference was held to outline CARICOM’s assistance to Haiti so far, plans for the future and to update Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who has just returned from an official visit to the People’s Republic of China.
Giving an overview of the Haitian Government, Mr. Skerritt informed that they have put in place several Co-ordinators to oversee various aspects of the relief and rebuilding efforts of the island.
“The Government is functioning. Clearly, if a situation where all your administrative buildings have been demolished and a large number of your officers would have been affected, you have some challenges and this is where CARICOM will come to play a part in providing them with technical expertise,” he said.
He noted that whilst there are limitations to its operations, “Haiti is secure from what we saw.” The Chairman said that the Government has been responding to the needs of the people and has been putting back a number of institutions to get them functioning fully.
“We are very, very impressed with what is happening so far and I believe that with better co-ordination coming from CARICOM and the assistance that we have offered, Haiti will be in a better position to take greater responsibility,” he added.
Also on the mission to Haiti were: Special Envoy on Haiti Disaster Relief, the Most Hon. P. J. Patterson; Secretary General of CARICOM, Dr. Edwin Carrington; Assistant Secretary General of CARICOM, Ambassador Colin Grandison, and Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Jeremy Collymore.