The Huffington Post
[quote]February 1, 2010
Prime Minister of the Republic of Haiti
Vowing to Build a Prosperous Future for Haiti
I want to thank the people of the United States for their extraordinary generosity in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake that has devastated Haiti. The magnitude of the loss of life and destruction is hard to fathom; the human toll is impossible to comprehend; the impact on Haitian life is heart-breaking and makes disaster relief all the more challenging.
With the miraculous help of governments and nongovernmental organizations, many victims of the earthquake have been rescued and treated. As long as one more life can be saved, we will persist in our efforts to reach anyone still trapped alive.
At the same time, we are focusing increasingly on relief for the injured and displaced. More medical facilities, supplies, and personnel are needed to ensure the proper treatment and safety of survivors, who continue to face grave threats from lack of medical care and appropriate housing. We are working hard to speed up relief and coordinate with the many governmental, intergovernmental, and private agencies involved. Our one-runway airport in Port-au-Prince was built to handle at most 40 flights a day. With U.S. assistance, we have increased that capacity to 140 flights a day, but we still have a backlog of 1400 relief flights.
We are developing plans to move as many as 400,000 people to tent cities outside of Port-au-Prince, while doing everything possible to restore a sense of normalcy in the capital and other devastated areas. We're taking steps to restore electricity, provide potable water, distribute medical supplies, and provide more and more temporary shelter. Several banks and transfer facilities have re-opened. Telephone communications are being re-established, roads cleared, and 20 additional health care facilities are now functioning.
With virtually no government buildings left standing, and the grounds of some others, including my own Office, turned into temporary refuge for the internally displaced, responding to this extraordinary calamity has been a herculean task. Despite the devastation, the Haitian people are resilient. Haiti has been knocked down but not out. We will rebuild, and we will be stronger for it. We are already creating plans to put Haitians to work in the relief and rebuilding processes.
With the staggering extent of the physical damage done by this earthquake, it's hard to conceive that its total damage is even broader, but an additional tragic reality is that it occurred just as Haiti had succeeded in convincing the world community that our nation was in the midst of creating a stable democratic society with a business-friendly environment. Over the past three years, world banking institutions recognized our progress and relieved our indebtedness. Private companies had begun to build factories and advance new industries. Hotels had expanded capacity. Now, Haiti must restart that effort as well.
Last week, I attended a meeting of a dozen nations in Montreal to prepare for an aid-pledging conference to be held in New York in March. The meeting was very encouraging. While we don't yet know the total cost of reconstruction, we are very appreciative of the immediate help that has been provided by so many nations, including the United States and our neighbors in the Caribbean.
The rebuilding process in all of its dimensions will be a lengthy ordeal, requiring sustained support, and we ask all of our donors and investors to take a long view: international agencies, nations, businesses, and countless individual friends. That said, we will report regularly on our progress. Donors will see the impact of their support. We expect to be held accountable - not only by our supporters but by our citizens and by the memories of so many lost loved ones.
For individual Americans, we ask that you continue giving regularly to whatever charity serving Haiti that you choose. We also look forward to a time in the not-too-distant future when we can again promote tourism broadly and welcome you as visitors, so that you can witness first-hand the hospitality and beauty of our country. A major focus of our rebuilding will be providing jobs for the people of Haiti, and tourism will be an important component of that effort.
Businesses interested in investing in Haiti, and taking advantage of preferential trade agreements with the United States, should not be deterred by the earthquake. Rebuilding our nation is now a global cause, and there can be no more meaningful investment.
And Haitians living abroad, we need your help. We hope that you will consider returning to help with the rebuilding. We need your skills, your knowledge and your experience to build government capacity and develop fair economic and social structures.
The earthquake that has destroyed so much has also brought much-needed attention and goodwill to our nation. In honor of all those who have died in this monumental tragedy, we vow to create a new Haiti that is stronger and more vibrant than ever before. Soon, the reporters and photographers will leave, and television and newspapers will turn to other stories. We hope that, like us, you will keep your eyes on the prize and stay the course. We will still need your help.[/quote]
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