FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Under Secretary-General Le Roy and Under Secretary-General Amos, and our Haitian colleague for your very useful briefings.
We meet today a little more than a year after Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake—a blow that lasted just 47 seconds but killed more than 220,000 human beings and left countless more wounded and desperate. The human and economic cost, as we all know, has been staggering—the worst of any natural disaster ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere. And in this chamber, let me also recall the terrible toll the quake took on the United Nations, claiming the lives of 102 UN agency staff and peacekeepers who had been working together with the Haitian people to bring about a brighter future.
A year later, Haiti’s road to recovery is still long and difficult. But we must walk it together. We must rededicate ourselves to an enduring partnership with the Haitian people to help a suffering land rebuild and renew itself—strengthening Haiti’s institutions and increasing its capacity so it can bind up the wounds of the past and build a better, more secure, and more prosperous future for its people.
Mr. President, I’d like to touch on four main topics today: elections, security, the humanitarian situation, and reconstruction.
First, elections. The United States welcomes the report of the OAS verification mission. Its findings offer a way forward towards improving credibility and public confidence in the presidential electoral process in Haiti. We urge the Provisional Electoral Council to review and implement the OAS report’s recommendations. Sustained support from the international community, including the United States, requires a credible process that represents the will of the Haitian people, as expressed by their votes.
The United States strongly supports the Secretary-General’s statement of December 8, which expressed the UN’s commitment to free and fair elections that reflect the will of the Haitian people. We urge the Haitian authorities to outline a very clear way forward that will lead promptly to the inauguration of a legitimate and democratically elected government. This must include issuing a timely and public electoral calendar. It must include announcing first-round results and conducting second-round elections in a manner consistent with the recommendations and findings of the OAS technical review. And it must include enacting measures that will increase public confidence in future electoral processes.
Let me also say a few words about the return this week of former President Jean-Claude Duvalier. Given the continuing turmoil surrounding the November 2010 election, the United States is concerned about the unpredictable impact that Duvalier’s return may have on Haiti’s political situation. My government is clear about Duvalier’s notorious record of human rights abuses and corruption. It is now up to Haitians to decide what to do. The situation on the ground is obviously fluid, but the Government of Haiti seems to be taking initial steps to hold Duvalier accountable for his actions during his time ruling Haiti.
Second, let me turn to security. My government again thanks the dedicated men and women of MINUSTAH for their invaluable work helping the Haitian National Police uphold the rule of law and promoting overall security and stability in Haiti.
We ask that MINUSTAH continue to work to provide a secure environment throughout this period of uncertainty even as it supports a credible elections process. Haiti cannot have hope if it does not have security. Without security, Haiti will be hamstrung in its attempts to tackle many of its most critical challenges, including rebuilding areas devastated by the earthquake and saving lives at risk from the cholera outbreak. During these challenging and uncertain days, we call on all actors to proceed in a calm and peaceful manner—and to understand that violence and unrest can only thwart the will of the Haitian people, not express it.
Third, Mr. President, let me say a few words about the humanitarian situation.
A credible, peaceful, and timely transfer of power is essential to Haiti’s response to the cholera crisis. Unfortunately, cholera will be present in Haiti for years to come. Working with Haitian partners, the international community must continue to address short-term needs while working to lessen the disease’s long-term impact.
The United States welcomes the coordination and leadership role played throughout the crisis by Haiti’s Ministry of Health and Population. The United States will continue to work with the Ministry and with the UN, NGO partners, and other donors in the multilateral relief effort to help fill programmatic and funding gaps in the Government of Haiti’s anti-cholera strategy. We encourage other donors and partners to do the same.
We continue to see encouraging signs that Haitians are heeding the Ministry of Health and Population’s messages about chlorinating water and other hygiene procedures. But these gains in hygiene, as we have just heard, could easily vanish without repeated efforts. Through USAID and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we support these efforts to get the word out to all Haitians.
Finally, Mr. President, let me turn to reconstruction and recovery.
Lasting security in Haiti will not be achieved by police and troops alone. It will also take jobs and economic opportunity. The prospects for rebuilding Haiti depend upon maintaining a secure environment and creating jobs for Haitians.
Many of the countries represented here today pledged assistance to Haiti during the March 2010 donors’ conference. We must all remain committed to Haiti’s recovery, deliver on those pledges, and work in a coordinated and strategic fashion through the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. Haiti’s supporters have shown unprecedented bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Yet, we must all deepen our commitment to progress and sustainable development in Haiti, led by its people. The United States has so far spent $332 million of our $1.15 billion recovery pledge over two years. These disbursements of our pledged funds come in addition to the more than $1 billion that the United States has already provided in post-earthquake humanitarian funds, the more than $400 million we have reprogrammed to help support the recovery, and the more than $40 million we have spent on the cholera response. The collective commitment that we have made to Haiti’s recovery must be sustained. And for our part, U.S. spending against our pledge will continue to ramp up, not scale back.
Despite these enormous challenges, progress has been made since the earthquake struck. The recovery effort will take years. It will take partnership. It will take commitment. But Haiti’s government and its strong and resilient people had been making impressive progress toward greater stability and greater prosperity before calamity struck. We are determined to work together with them and with the international community over the long term to restore hope in the years to come.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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