Haiti thanks CARICOM for quick response

CARICOM Secretariat, Guyana – Haiti Prime Minister Honourable Jean-Max Bellerive has expressed his country’s gratitude for the quick response of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in the wake of the devastating earthquake of Tuesday 12 January 2010.

Speaking to the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), which was part of CARICOM’s Tactical Mission to Haiti, Mr Bellerive said his country was “indeed grateful for the quick response of the CARICOM leaders to our plight.” He added that “we count on our friends of the CARICOM to be our ambassadors, to help us convince the world that we need strong help.”

Mr Bellerive told CMC he had already held talks with Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding on what role CARICOM could play in the rebuilding of the country and said the Community could play a leading role in securing much needed financial and technical assistance to his earthquake battered country in the years ahead.

“They can do a lot. First we want technical assistance…it is not only money…the CARICOM can do a lot, they can also be our ambassadors outside because… they can travel and explain the situation in Haiti,” the Prime Minister told CMC.

The Prime Minister’s words of appreciation came as the Community intensified its relief efforts through the appointment of Brigadier General (Ret) Earl Arthurs of Belize as Special Co-ordinator on the ground in Haiti. General Arthurs, who led the CARICOM tactical mission which arrived in Haiti on Sunday, assumed responsibility on Tuesday and will remain in Haiti to carry out his assignment.

The Special Coordinator will be responsible for ensuring that the Community’s Haiti Response Mission for the Haiti Earthquake is effectively pursued on the ground in Haiti. The Special Coordinator will also be the link between the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the stricken country and other coordination mechanisms in Haiti.

Meanwhile, in an effort to maximise assistance to Haiti, CDEMA has recommended that financial contributions is the preferred means of aid at this time rather than goods given the logistical challenges being faced in Haiti.

A meeting was held in the Dominican Republic on Monday January 18, 2010, under the chairmanship of the President of the Dominican Republic, His Excellency Leonel Fernández Reyna, to examine the best means of addressing the situation in Haiti.

The President of Haiti, His Excellency Rene Garcia Preval participated in the meeting with his colleague CARICOM leaders, the Chairman of CARICOM, Honourable Roosevelt Skerritt, the Prime Minister of Dominica, Right Honourable Hubert Ingraham Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Honourable David Thompson, Prime Minister of Barbados, Honourable Bruce Golding, Prime Minister of Jamaica and Honourable Patrick Manning, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. Secretary-General of CARICOM His Excellency Edwin Carrington also participated along with representatives of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Canada, Spain, United States, Brazil, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the European Union and the World Bank.

At the meeting CARICOM was appointed as a member of a Coordination Committee created to organise an International Conference which will have, as its objective, the devising of a Strategic Plan for the Reconstruction of Haiti. This Plan is intended to go beyond emergency assistance and would contribute to strengthening the viability and the political, economic and social stability of Haiti, in the medium and long term.

The Committee comprising of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, CARICOM, the United Nations, the European Union, the Organisation of American States, the Rio Group, the United States, Canada, Brazil and the Inter-American Development Bank will be responsible for organising the conference and will hold its first meeting on Monday 25 January in Canada.

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