March 31, 2010 // Uncategorized

Public, private aid to Haiti must continue, American ambassador say

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Even as media attention to Haiti wanes, individuals and nations must continue to support the long-term rebuilding of the Caribbean nation devastated by an earthquake in January, said the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.

Ambassador Miguel H. Diaz said the initial outpouring of aid demonstrated that “while our citizenship is defined by the country in which we live, we all are part of a larger community of global citizens that aid others in need.”

The aid must continue, he said in a statement given to Catholic News Service March 31, just hours before the United Nations opened the International Donors Conference to hear Haitian officials describe their hopes for the future and to coordinate giving to help make their hopes a reality.

The United Nations and the World Bank have estimated that Haiti will need many years and $11.5 billion to rebuild, the ambassador said. For just the next two years, Haiti will need about $3.8 billion in assistance, he said.

In addition, public and private donors must help meet ongoing humanitarian needs, Diaz said. “We know that any prosperous tomorrow will depend on providing vital assistance today to those whose lives have been affected by the earthquake — those who lost homes, for whom food is scarce and who have inadequate access to sanitation,” he said.

Diaz said the International Donors Conference, involving 110 countries, is committed to working with the people and government of Haiti to ensure they have a country worthy of their people.

The six guiding principles to be followed, he said, are: Haitian ownership of the plan for the country’s future; direct involvement of the Haitian people in rebuilding; accountability and transparency in spending the funds raised; coordination between the government and the donors; monitoring to ensure the investments have their desired effect; and ensuring the investments are sustainable by building up the ability of Haitians to take over the projects.

Since January, the media’s coverage of Haiti has been full of “images of despair and suffering, but also of resolve, resilience and joy of life on the part of the Haitian people. We must not let the efforts in Haiti fade with the media coverage,” Diaz said.

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