Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Clinton to Co-Chair Haiti Rebuilding Authority


UNITED NATIONS -- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will co-chair a committee overseeing at least $3.8 billion in post-quake aid to Haiti, the ravaged country's prime minister said.

The announcement was made ahead of a critical donors conference Wednesday at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Haitian officials will ask representatives from more than 130 countries for reconstruction help at the meeting chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former president's wife, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

A senior U.S. official said the Obama administration would pledge $1.15 billion over the next two years to rebuilding Haiti. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Hillary Clinton would announce the pledge at the conference later Wednesday.

At the core of the quake-ravaged country's request for help is the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), an initial 23-member body tasked with coordinating and paying out the aid money expected to flow in. It is a key step to allaying donor concerns over Haiti's history of official corruption and political unrest who want assurances that the money will go where it is intended.

The commission will be co-chaired by Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and will also include two Haitian legislators, local authorities, union and business representatives, and a delegate from the 14-nation Caribbean Community trade bloc.

The board will also have a representative of each donor who is pledging at least $100 million over two years or $200 million of debt reduction - currently the United States, Canada, Brazil, France, Venezuela and European Union along with the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank and United Nations.

The former U.S. president was tapped for the role earlier this week, Bellerive said. Clinton, who as U.N. special envoy to Haiti visited three times since the earthquake, will likely be spending much more time in the impoverished country in his new role.

"I was pleased to be invited by President Preval," Clinton said in an e-mailed statement. "The Haitians are committed to building back better - expanding economic opportunities, strengthening basic services, and increasing the capacity of government. They want to create a new future for themselves and I am committed to assisting them through the IHRC."

Cheryl Mills, the chief of staff to Hillary Clinton, said the aim is to have Haiti take over control of the reconstruction commission after 18 months.

But those living on Port-au-Prince's streets are skeptical that the conference will help anyone but Haiti's powerful.

"All this aid is coming in, but we are not the ones who are going to benefit from that money," said Alia Josef, 42, who lives in a tent near the airport. She was hopeful that international management of the aid would ensure it reaches those in need.


Source: WashingtonPost

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