Media Center

Press Release


  September 18, 2008

Expressing deep concern that the disaster challenges have compounded the economic recovery of Haiti, Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert R. Ramdin, has however lauded the Haitian government’s effort to tackle the country’s difficult situation in the wake of Hurricanes Fay, Hanna, Gustav, and Ike.

Ambassador Ramdin made the remarks Tuesday, during a meeting of the OAS Group of Friends of Haiti, convened at the Organization’s Washington, DC headquarters to review the report on the situation in the Caribbean nation. The meeting of the Group of Friends follows Ambassador Ramdin’s September 11-13 visit to Haiti.

While recognizing the Haitian government’s efforts, Assistant Secretary General Ramdin also underscored the contributions of the international community, including the agencies of the inter-American system, towards mobilizing resources for disaster relief in Haiti.

The Assistant Secretary General commended the appointment of a new Cabinet in Haiti, which will facilitate the recovery effort, political stability and socio-economic development. Likewise, he saluted the initiative of representatives of the inter-American system organizations to hold regular coordination meetings on the ground in order to coordinate their programs.

Several Member State representatives shared information on the activities of their particular countries in the context of this post-disaster humanitarian phase in Haiti.

They stressed the need for effective mechanisms to prevent similar catastrophes in our region and for better, more coordinated responses when they do occur. They also identified engineering research, environmental restoration and preservation, proper building codes, education and law enforcement as vital to natural disaster mitigation initiatives.

During the meeting, an appeal was also made to Member States for ongoing contributions to the OAS Inter-American Emergency Aid Fund (FONDEM) and to ratify the Inter-American Convention to Facilitate Disaster Assistance, with a view to strengthening the organization’s disaster management system.

Assistant Secretary General Ramdin proposed the holding of a workshop on natural disaster in order to revise, streamline and revitalize the inter-American system regarding disaster mitigation. He further added “structural problems require structural solutions,” in reference to a viable approach to cope with the situation in Haiti.

It was also noted that President René Préval showed commitment to holding the elections to complete the Senate. The OAS is expected to provide strong support in that regard, in particular through the ongoing modernization of the civil registry project.

Reference: E-351/08