UN envoy for Haiti urges speedy disbursal of donor pledges

17 April 2009

Hailing pledges worth nearly $325 million for Haiti's reconstruction and development made at a donor conference in Washington last week, the top United Nations envoy to the impoverished country today expressed hope the funds will be quickly disbursed.

“I hope that commitments made at the meeting will materialize very rapidly to begin implementation of plans presented by the Haitian Government,” Hédi Annabi, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative, said.

He added that the goal was “not only to respond to the needs for immediate reconstruction after the storms of 2008, but also to attract indispensable investments that would help put the country on a trajectory of sustainable development.”

The Special Representative, who also heads the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), stressed that improving the economic and social situation was essential to consolidating stability in the country.

He said that he was impressed not only by the results of the conference, but also by the strong attendance there, including high officials of 28 bilateral and multilateral partners, as well as the Secretary-General.

“The engagement of donors is a good beginning, particularly in the current international economic context,” Mr. Annabi said.

“This involvements illustrates the political will of the international community in Haiti to work together to encourage investment and the creation of employment in the country,” he said.

Secretary-General Ban, who visited the country with former United States President Bill Clinton last month, said at the conference that the country stands a better chance than almost any emerging economy, not only to recover from instability and natural disasters but to prosper, because of new, favourable US trade legislation.

To lock in the gains, however, he said that the Government requires additional short-term technical and financial assistance.

“I firmly believe that Haiti is poised to make more progress over the next two years than it has made in the past two decades,” Mr. Ban told a major donor conference hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington.

Reasserting that the country is now at a turning point, a message he has been stressing since his visit there last month, he added that “for all of us, this is the moment, a break-out moment, to help one of the poorest nations lift itself toward a future of real economic prospects and genuine hope.”

Following many years of unrest and high crime, last summer''s storms have left $1 billion – equivalent to 15 per cent of Haiti''s gross domestic product (GDP) – of damage in their wake.

The global recession has further eroded the country''s socio-economic situation, with remittances, which bring three times the amount of funds to Haiti as international aid, plummeting 14 per cent.

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