HAITI IN "FRAGILE" SITUATION NEEDS DONOR AID - U.N.
(Reuters Alertnet) - By Anastasia Moloney
BOGOTA - International donors are failing to meet aid pledges to Haiti, which threatens to undermine stability and already slow recovery efforts in the earthquake-shattered country, the United Nations has said.
At a donor conference last March, dozens of countries and aid organisations pledged nearly $10 billion in aid to help Haiti rebuild following the quake, of which five billion dollars was earmarked for the following 18 months.
So far less than 40 percent of the funds ($1.74 billion) promised for 2010-11 have been disbursed, the U.N. says.
“The situation in Haiti continues to be fragile and reversals could generate a new crisis,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special representative, Mariano Fernandez, told the body's Security Council last week as he presented the latest report on Haiti.
“The future stability of Haiti and its eventual prosperity continue to depend on the political will of its leaders and citizens, as well as on the support of the Security Council and the international community as a whole,” he added.
Eighteen months following the quake, nearly 635,000 Haitians still live in makeshift camps sprawled across the capital, Port-au-Prince.
Many Haitians are still dependent on international aid agencies to provide water, food and health care for their daily survival.
“The ongoing cholera epidemic, the country’s extreme vulnerability to natural disasters and the steady rise of food and fuel prices have compounded the hardships faced by the Haitian population,” Fernandez said in his report.
As a number of major aid organisations pull out of Haiti because of reduced donor funding, providing water and basic sanitation needed to contain the cholera epidemic will be even harder, Fernandez said.
The cholera epidemic has killed more than 6,000 people and infected nearly 400,000 since it broke out last October. While the number of deaths from cholera has declined, heavy rains expected over the next few months means it still remains a serious threat.
The U.N. peacekeeping force is vital for maintaining stability in the country, says the U.N.
The force has faced growing protests by Haitians following the alleged rape of a Haitian man by Uruguayan U.N. troops.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has called for the 12,000-strong mission, known as MINUSTAH, to be extended for another year until October 2012.
“In the face of these challenges I am convinced that MINUSTAH’s strategic focus will continue to be our support in strengthening the institutions, the state of law for the protection of human rights, and above all to provide stability to the country,” Ban Ki-moon said in a recent report.
After months of political deadlock, Haitian lawmakers approved last week the nomination of a U.N. development expert, Garry Conille, to serve as prime minister, a move that many hope will allow the government of Michel Martelly to speed up rebuilding efforts.