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31 March 2010 - International Donors’ Conference for Haiti : Statement by M. Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

Mr. Secretary-General,

Mr. President, Mr. Préval,

Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Bellerive,

Madam Secretary, Mrs. Clinton,

Madam High Representative,

President Clinton,



Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the victims of the January 12th earthquake. I would also like to pay tribute to those who are mourning them; to those who now, back on their feet, must look to the future and need the support that the international community can and must provide.

Certainly we must think about reconstruction—that’s what we’re here for. But it remains urgent to provide assistance for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are still in tents or in the rain. We don’t think that transitioning from emergency aid to humanitarian aid represents a lesser effort. To the contrary, we must save these people first. The entire world stands by their side—a fact reflected by this assistance effort.

Here at the United Nations, I am thinking in particular of our friends in MINUSTAH, which suffered very heavy losses, and which swiftly rebounded so that it could continue contributing to the country’s recovery.

I would like to thank the United States and the UN, the co-hosts of this conference, for the caliber of their cooperation. The work accomplished with the Haitian government—and there’s no question of doing it without the Haitian government—and all the donors enabled us to formulate in record time, armed with a loss-and-damage assessment and a road map, the Action Plan for the Reconstruction and National Development of Haiti.

We are meeting here in order to act, together, side-by-side with the Haitian government, in a decisive fashion to rebuild and reconstruct Haiti. This exceptional disaster must give rise to new concerns, to a new surge of solidarity for a reestablished Haitian state that is resolutely on the path of development and an easing of political tensions.

For Haiti, it is crucial for development to be possible, but make no mistake—it is also crucial for the entire international community and for suffering populations throughout the world who are watching. Today we must demonstrate that collective action is possible; that development aid can work; that in 10 years, the Haitians’ situation will be considerably, and structurally, improved.

France, which shares with Haiti a long and sometimes tumultuous history, as well as its language and culture, will rise to this challenge. We are committed to it along with the European Union, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, and the international community.

France immediately mobilized its efforts to provide emergency aid to the Haitian people. Now, it must stand by Haiti in the long term.

In 2010 and 2011 alone, French aid will amount to €180 million, plus the immediate, already effective cancellation of €56 million of Haiti’s bilateral debt to France and France’s direct contributions to European and multilateral aid.

Where will French public aid go? France decided to allocate €20 million annually for budgetary aid, €5 million of which will be disbursed before the end of this month.

This aid will be designed:

— to acquire grain, on an emergency basis, to support the needs of the people ahead of the next planting season
— but also to directly support the administrative, financial and security capabilities of the Haitian State and to permit it to carry out its Action Plan for Reconstruction.

French aid is aimed at supporting a new political, economic and social model for Haiti, a model based on more transparent financial architecture and a more balanced distribution of resources as a result of true political, institutional and economic decentralization.

France supports a new model incorporating human rights as an essential part of reconstruction strategies—and I want to insist on the special attention focused on women, who are even more vulnerable in crisis and post-crisis situations.

The tragedy that struck Haiti must provide an opportunity to establish a long-term project promoting sustainable development and thus offering the Haitian people the living conditions to which they are entitled, whether in health, housing, education—which President Préval so rightly stressed—or culture.

This is the logic behind our priority projects: rebuilding the State teaching hospital of Port-au-Prince, vital when it comes to providing quality health-care services; and a project to establish a social welfare net. I want to insist on this point: France stands ready, along with others, to build with our Haitian friends a system of health insurance capable of offering equal access to health care. I want this proposal to be part of this conference’s final document. Also necessary is a program fostering the establishment of a land registry to support a strategy of sustainable development.

French civil society is fully engaged in this enormous global surge of solidarity. Local governments, NGOs and French companies raised nearly €80 million.

I also want to hail the preparatory meetings held on both sides of the Atlantic with the private sector, NGOs, the Haitian diaspora community and members of Haitian civil society. France, for its part, organized the International Conference of World Cities and Regions for Haiti, held in the Caribbean on March 23. Local governments will thus help sketch out a new development model for Haiti, which can count on the strengthening of our decentralized cooperation, particular through efforts by the French Antilles and Guyana.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this conference is only a beginning, not an end. The decisions we take today must be vigilantly followed up on the political level. That is why we are calling for the implementation of a transparent system for following up on the commitments of donors and the Haitian government.

Thank you.

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