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OAS Assistant Secretary General calls for coordination and partnership for Haiti assistance

  January 28, 2010

Speaking to the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS), Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin drew attention to the outstanding emergency assistance provided to Haiti by OAS Member States, Permanent Observers and inter-American institutions since the January 12 earthquake that has devastated that country. In thanking OAS Member States, observers and inter-American institutions for their contributions to the emergency response effort in Haiti, Ramdin said “I believe that the coordinated approach that has characterized the work of institutions of the inter-American system thus far is commendable and represents a model that we should seek to perpetuate.

Ramdin also underscored the OAS’s commitment to provide medium and long-term assistance to the government and people of Haiti and to partner with institutions and organizations in a coordinated and sustained relief effort.

Within the OAS, Ramdin proposed strengthening the executive capacity of the Haiti Task Force by creating a Technical Coordinating Unit to coordinate all OAS efforts in Haiti, in direct consultation with our operations on the ground. Building on the theme of coordination and distribution of responsibilities within the inter-American system, Ramdin said, “I see the role of the OAS in the medium- and long-term assistance to Haiti in the following areas: support for democracy, governance and state institutions; civil registry and the electoral process; and capacity building in trade, tourism, investment promotion and the judiciary.”

Ambassador Ramdin also observed that the OAS Working Group on Natural Disasters, is “one of the most important political mechanisms for advancing substantive work in disaster risk reduction, management and response.”

In addition to the approximately US$2 million the OAS and its disaster assistance arm, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), have collected in donations to Haiti, several OAS projects in Haiti are being reprogrammed to make more funding available. PADF has shipped over 50 tons of goods to Haiti. The OAS has appealed to universities in OAS Member States to facilitate scholarships and benefits for Haitian students to study abroad and build technical capacities and expertise in highly needed disciplines, including engineering, finance, project development and the medical sciences.

Recognizing that the Haitian people must control their own destiny, the OAS General Secretariat is reaching out to Haitians living abroad and is planning a meeting with Haitian Diaspora organizations from Canada and the United States to leverage the broad range of expertise available that could contribute substantively to Haiti’s medium and long term development and reconstruction.

Following the report by Ambassador Ramdin, several Permanent Representatives to the Organization took the floor to reaffirm national commitments, commend the work carried out by the OAS and PADF, and stress the need for broader coordination among the different relief efforts undertaken by international organizations and national governments.

Reference: E-025/10