Mr. President, the United States is honored to participate in this important debate on Haiti. We would like to thank you personally for your leadership of this session, and for your efforts to sustain international attention to the situation in Haiti during Colombia’s Presidency of the Security Council. We are also pleased to welcome Secretary-General Ban and President Clinton and thank them both for their briefings. We also welcome President Preval and the many distinguished Ministers of Government who are here today.
Mr. President, The United States supports the Presidential Statement that has been proposed by your delegation, As a member of the Group of Friends of Haiti, we join with the statement that Uruguayan Minister Almagro will deliver on behalf of the group.
Progress in the reconstruction and development of Haiti is crucial to achieving the future that the people of Haiti deserve. To achieve sustainability, it is important that the international community work through Haitian institutions and thereby strengthen those institutions for the benefit of the people of Haiti.
We call on countries who have pledged assistance to fulfill those commitments and to work through the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), the coordination body for reconstruction activities in Haiti. We commend the IHRC for its leadership of the strategic planning process, helping to focus donor efforts on the top four priorities in Haiti’s Action Plan for National Recovery and Development: debris removal, water and sanitation, health, and housing. To date, the Commission has approved a total of 87 projects representing a long term investment of over $3 billion dollars.
Haitians continue to face enormous difficulties. However, through their hard work and determination, and with the support of the international community, the people of Haiti are making progress in rebuilding their lives and their country. I would like to briefly highlight a few areas where we have seen results.
First, Debris Removal
The January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti created an estimated 10 million cubic meters of rubble in 30 seconds. This is enough debris to fill dump trucks parked bumper to bumper halfway around the world. The United States remains the leading donor in debris removal; we reiterate the call of the IHRC for more donor attention to this sector.
Through short-term rubble removal jobs programs, the United States government has cumulatively employed more than 350,000 people in rubble removal work, creating more than 3.5 million person days of work. To date, these programs have injected nearly $19 million dollars into the local economy. On average, 40 to 50 percent of these jobs are filled by women. We applaud the UN agencies – particularly UNDP, UN-Habitat, UNOPS, and the International Labor Organization for working with the United States in implementing this top priority of the IHRC, as we heard from President Clinton.
Second, Water & Sanitation
In October, when cholera was first confirmed in the Artibonite region of Haiti, the leadership of the Haitian Ministry of Health and Population was crucial for the planning of what became a nationwide response. The United States provided Haiti with 45 million dollars in emergency funding for immediate efforts. The government of Spain and the Inter-American Development Bank have also been particularly active in the water and sanitation sector.
Despite the challenges, especially in sanitation, the people of Haiti have seen rapid progress with respect to the availability of safe drinking water. The IHRC target was to increase the rate of sustainable access to potable water up from an original 2% to 50% by October 2011. Today, the IHRC estimates that one third of Haiti’s population has access to potable water thanks to chlorination efforts, and that Haiti will meet or exceed the 50% goal by October 2011 – a major accomplishment that is ahead of schedule.
In the health sector, the long term investments planned by the United States build upon partnership with Haiti’s Ministry of Health and Population. The United States is working with Haiti to reduce infant mortality rates, reduce maternal mortality, increase contraceptive prevalence, lower prevalence of infectious diseases, reduce levels of severe malnourishment in children, and improve sanitation and hygiene practices.
Population density rates in some areas of Port-au-Prince are four times those of New York City, but without the familiar high rise buildings. From a high of 1.5 million people living in camps, MINUSTAH estimates that approximately 680,000 continue to live in spontaneous settlements today.
Major long-term challenges remain in this sector. The IHRC has expressed a need for the Government of Haiti to establish a framework for the identification of property owners and to identify beneficiaries of housing programs. Recently, the United States joined with the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund and the World Bank Group to create a new housing finance facility which President Clinton described.
Fifth, Job Creation
Despite the many challenges it faces, its economy also offers cause for guarded optimism. A strategy that links development to trade is paramount for this Caribbean nation.
The creation of a new industrial park near Cap Haitien, a combined effort between the Government of Haiti, the United States, and the Inter-American Development Bank, is projected to create 20,000 permanent export-oriented jobs by just the first tenant of this park – Sae-A – a global textile firm. The United States applauds the nations of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for providing duty-free access to Haitian goods. We urge the international community, especially those here in the Americas, to support Haiti’s long term development through aid and trade.
A secure and stable environment is critical for Haitians to continue to rebuild their lives. And the international community’s support, through MINUSTAH, is a critical contribution to this stability.
We applaud the commitment of all the nations that have contributed troops and police to MINUSTAH. We urge MINUSTAH to continue assisting the Government of Haiti in providing protection to the civilian population, especially in the context of the ongoing electoral process.
The United States joins with other partners of Haiti in working to help strengthen Haitian institutions, a critical element of Haiti’s ability to assume responsibility for its own security.
And finally, Elections
We applaud the cooperation between MINUSTAH and the Haitian National Police, who provided a secure environment during the second-round election on March 20. The United States supports a timely conclusion to the electoral process based on a fair and transparent procedure and a peaceful and democratic transition of power by early May.
Mr. President, the United States remains committed to assisting the people and the Government of Haiti in their effort to rebuild their country. We welcome this open session as a contribution to the continuation of that process.
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