Two years after the earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands and left over one million people homeless in Haiti, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, is calling on the international community to re-focus and re-think its aid co-ordination efforts in Haiti, and to work with the government and recognized authorities in this regard. The Head of OAS said that while some progress has been made since the earthquake, more can be achieved through better coordination.
He added that "two years have passed and yes, progress has been made. We have seen the rubble being cleared and the vulnerable being relocated in some cases, but there are still approximately half a million people living in tents. To address this more effectively, I think all stakeholders, including the NGO's, international donors, and agencies must re-commit to coordinating and working with the Haitian authorities in the new year.” Secretary General Insulza also added that 'aid agencies working in Haiti certainly mean well, but we must all ensure that there is co-ordination with local and national authorities in the delivery of assistance.”
"This year, millions of dollars in aid will again be allocated to Haiti by the international community and various agencies. This is an ideal opportunity to re-assess under Haitian leadership what has been achieved to date, where the new priorities are, and where we can all do better,” he said.
The leader of the hemispheric organization highlighted the work by the Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Albert Ramdin, on OAS assistance projects in Haiti, and stressed his work on coordinating the Group of Friends of Haiti, which meets at Organization headquarters in Washington.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Ramdin emphasized the need to co-ordinate all action with the Haitian leaders. In his view, Haitian authorities must be empowered. "Along with addressing the physical and infrastructural needs, we must build capacity in Haiti," said Ramdin. "Strengthening capacity will lead to stronger institutions and confidence in Haiti."
Ramdin also believes the time has come for CARICOM and other OAS Member States and countries around the world to seriously explore investment opportunities in Haiti. "The people of Haiti are hard working, talented and creative, but they have been limited in terms of opportunity. If CARICOM and the rest of the world really want to make a difference in Haiti, it’s time to explore investment opportunities," he said.
According to Secretary General Insulza, "the OAS has pledged to keep Haiti high on the agenda in 2012. We will continue to provide support wherever needed. Our long-term commitment is there."
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.