CARICOM-AUSTRALIA CHIDE EMPTY PROMISES TO HAITI
GEORGETOWN — The 15-nation Caribbean Community (Caricom) joined Australia Friday to harshly criticize the international community for failing to keep a 15 billion dollar pledge to earthquake-ravaged and cholera-stricken Haiti.
Peter Baxter, director general of the Australian Agency for International Development, said the international community would get low marks for not matching much of its promises with cash.
Baxter attributed the slothfulness to the global economic crisis that has affected Europe and North America but, at the same time, he chided states for making unrealistic pledges.
"You don't promise what you can't deliver. It's a very simple and direct message and while no doubt countries made their pledges with goodwill, goodwill doesn't provide practical assistance," said Baxter.
Australia announced it would join Caricom in intensifying calls for donor pledges to be provided to Haiti as the country approached the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake.
Among the priorities are providing proper sanitation, potable water, health care and public administration infrastructure to help fast-track and stabilize recovery efforts.
Baxter noted that Australia was able to provide 24 million dollars for earthquake relief efforts and another million dollars for cholera relief because of his country's buoyant economy.
Caricom Secretary General Edwin Carrington said the region was "more than a little distressed" that only 10 percent of the pledges by the international community have been honored.
"With the numerous challenges that Haiti has had to endure, not only in the wake of the earthquake, there is no doubt that there continues to be an urgent need for these resources in Haiti," said Carrington, who will end his 18-year tenure as secretary general at the close of 2010.
Haiti is member of Caricom's single market but has been struggling to participate fully over the years because of political upheavals and the natural and health disasters it has endured.
Caricom trade ministers earlier this month approved a list of 42 goods that Haiti would be allowed to trade on a one-way basis to the rest of the single market for the three years as part of efforts to help the country recover from the earthquake.