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Canada - Recovery plan for Haiti outlined in Montreal

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2010 | 12:00 AM


Aid groups will work off of an existing plan for Haiti's development to help the country recover from a devastating earthquake, United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton disclosed yesterday.

Clinton said that international donors and organisations had been mapping out a plan for the country's development for months before the quake. She spoke while en route to a conference in Montreal on how to channel aid into Haiti, and indicated this could be the basis for a revised plan now.

"I don't want to start from scratch, but we have to recognise the changed challenges that we are now confronting," she said.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said his government needs to rely strongly on its partners but he asserted that Haiti is able to lead the rebuilding effort after the January 12 earthquake.

"Haitians continue to work in precarious conditions but it is in the position to assume the leadership expected of it by its people in order to relaunch the country on the path to reconstruction," Bellerive said in opening remarks.

Non-governmental organisations

Bellerive said they want to encourage an exodus out of Port-au-Prince and into the countryside.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and foreign ministers from more than a dozen countries, eight international bodies and six major non-governmental organisations met at the conference in Montreal.

"I believe that the international community is working to support the Haitian government and the Haitian government needs to be in the lead for deciding what happens in their country," said Caroline Atkinson, director of external communication for the International Monetary Fund.

Aid delivery

Canadian Foreign Affairs minister Lawrence Cannon said in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday that one goal is to "physically get the Haitian government back on its feet."

Cannon said the conference would review the progress of aid delivery to Haiti since the earthquake and lay the groundwork for a larger meeting that will focus on long-term reconstruction. He said the initial meeting is not a donor conference where countries will pledge aid. He said he expects to announce the date and location of that larger conference.

Governments have pledged nearly $1 billion in aid to Haiti, according to an Associated Press estimate, including $575 million from the European Union's 27 nations.

Yesterday's meeting comes as a global army of aid workers was delivering more food into people's hands in Haiti, but the efforts were still falling short.

International Red Cross spokesman, Paul Conneally, speaking from Geneva and just back from Haiti, said there was a growing need to bring in heavy equipment to take down damaged buildings, some of which could collapse at the slightest aftershock.

Decisions will have to be made in Montreal about urban planning for the new Port-au-Prince, he said. "It's going to require, minimum, a generation to rebuild Port-au-Prince. The Haitians understand that."