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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 01:15 GMT 02:15 UK
Donors pledge $1bn in Haiti aid
Haitians beg for food and money from church visitors in Saut d'Eau, Haiti, on 16 July
Haiti has been plagued by political instability and natural disaster
International donors have announced extra pledges of more than $1bn to help rebuild the stricken nation of Haiti.

It means a total of $1.5bn has now been promised - more than the $1.3bn Haiti is estimated to require until 2006.

Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, has been in turmoil since February, when its president was ousted amid violent unrest.

Its interim prime minister has said that the real key to beating insecurity is development, not peacekeepers.

The additional pledges came at the donors' conference for Haiti at the World Bank in Washington, attended by donor institutions, nations and NGOs.

A total of $1.085bn extra was pledged - in addition to $440m already committed.

It came after US Secretary of State Colin Powell urged countries to help Haiti "build a better future", and announced that the US would triple this year's aid.

Large donors
US: $230m
EU: $225m
IDB: $260m
World Bank: $150m
"Over the past 12 months especially," he said, they "have experienced economic crisis, political chaos, floods and fires".

Aid charity Oxfam said many of the pledges were not grants, but loans that would push Haiti further into debt.

An assessment by Haiti, the European Commission, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Nations and the World Bank found that Haiti would need $1.365bn over the next two years to rebuild.

One of the world's poorest countries, it lacks basic infrastructure like roads, bridges and electricity. Unemployment is at about 60%, and about 5% of Haitians has HIV/Aids.

Haiti has been led by an interim government since February, when President Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile following weeks of violent unrest.

'Jobs not arms'

A UN Stabilisation Force, led by Brazil and set to total some 8,000 troops and police by the end of August, is trying to maintain the fragile peace in the country.

But interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said on Tuesday he believed development, not a military presence, was the real key to solving some of Haiti's problems.

Supporters of ousted President Jean Bertrand Aristide (image on t-shirt) demonstrate on 2 July in front of the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince
Controversy remains about the ousting of Jean-Bertrand Aristide
"The insecurity we have in Haiti - the real cause, the profound cause, is poverty, inequality and underemployment," he said.

"If UN wants to do a good job in Haiti they have to put as much emphasis in Haiti on development as to the military aspect.

"I personally don't believe it is the police force that will solve instability in Haiti. I'm sure when the people get a job, they will give up their arms also."

In a column in the Washington Post on Tuesday, Mr Latortue acknowledged that the $2.5bn of aid sent to Haiti over the past 10 years had borne "results far short of expectations".

But he said the corruption and lack of strategic focus that had bedevilled aid programmes in those years had been ended - and that Haiti's interim government had identified a national development plan in which "every penny" would be accounted for.

The planned programme, Haiti's interim planning minister said earlier, would focus on:

  • re-establishing security and reforming the judicial system

  • improving economic policy and spurring growth

  • developing agriculture

  • decentralising government

Mr Latortue has spent much of the last four months trying to persuade the international community to recognise and support him, says our correspondent in Washington, Jill McGivering.

His battle for credibility still isn't won - but he does now have a significant pledge of new cash, she says.

The BBC's James Ingham
"Haiti is a desperately poor country"

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Country profile: Haiti
03 Mar 04  |  Country profiles


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