The Prime Minister of Haiti Mr. Jean-Max Bellerive on Tuesday received overwhelming support for his government’s rehabilitation efforts of his earthquake devastated country.
UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka convened a special session at the World Urban Forum dedicated to Haiti during which former United States president Bill Clinton sent a message of solidarity with Haiti.
“Through my role as the United Nations Special Envoy for Haiti, through the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and through my own Foundation, I am doing what I can to help meet the most urgent needs and assist in long-term reconstruction. There are many incredible organizations and individuals working around the clock to ensure that food, water, shelter and medical supplies reach the millions of Haitians who need our help,” Mr. Clinton said in a speech read at the session.
The meeting dubbed ‘Building Back Better’ heard from experts on disaster risk reduction, preparedness, urban systems and built environment to share advice and guidance on key points for consideration by the government of Haiti.
Mr. Clinton said that although intelligence and drive were clearly abundant in Haiti, opportunity was not as readily available.
“That is where all of you come in. With the innovation, skills, resources and investments of businesses, the skills and knowledge of nongovernmental organizations, the support of foreign governments, and the generosity of individuals to fill in the gaps, Haiti can overcome its troubled past and this horrific earthquake to emerge a stronger, more prosperous nation,” he said.
At a press conference, Prime Minister Bellerive said the needs of Haiti were massive, with thousands dead and displaced. In the short term, some USD 350 million was needed to cover the gap in the budget while some USD 3.5 billion would be needed in the next 18 months.
The Prime Minister expressed optimism that the pledging conference for his country slated for March 31, 2010 in New York would achieve a lot.
“However, Haiti is not a one day event and we should not lose focus of the bigger picture. This is a process that will go on for some time until our country is back on its feet again,” he said.
Mrs. Tibaijuka concurred saying that the world should not forget that even before the January earthquake Haiti was already facing serious problems. “This is the only Least Developed Country in the Western hemisphere and we can look at the earthquake as a wake up call,” she said.
Brazil’s Minister for Cities Mr. Marcio Fortes said rebuilding Haiti would require more than providing food and infrastructure. “We must ensure that the economy is working and that there is commerce and industry,” he said.