On Saturday, a delegation from the United States will attend Haiti’s first presidential inauguration since the January 2010 earthquake. As Michel Martelly takes office, international humanitarian organization Oxfam America urges the United States to fulfill commitments made to Haiti, so the new administration can begin taking urgent steps needed to rebuild.
Former President Clinton, the United Nations special envoy for Haiti and co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) will be joined by US Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten and State Department Special Coordinator for Haiti Thomas Adams.
“The US delegation is a welcome presence at the inauguration. With continued commitment to Haiti, these leaders can help support the new president of Haiti to work with the Haitian people on meaningful reconstruction and make the decisions needed to move Haiti forward,” said Yolette Etienne, Oxfam America’s Haiti Program Director.
In making these decisions, Haiti’s new administration must ensure that the nation’s priorities for reconstruction match the priorities of the Haitian people. In a survey conducted by Oxfam last March, Haitians said their top priorities were jobs, education and housing, in that order.
“The new president and his government need to show real political leadership and urgency in leading on reconstruction, which should include putting people to work, building social services, investing in agriculture, and perhaps most urgently – taking the lead on resettlement by protecting the rights of displaced Haitians and supporting families without homes to find solutions,” said Etienne.
As Martelly begins his first year in office, decisions must be made about the future of the IHRC, which is currently co-chaired by President Clinton. The new government must also work with the international community to coordinate the use of donor funds, which have yet to be delivered efficiently and allocated effectively, for recovery and development projects.
“These donor funds will have a better chance of resulting in long-lasting, positive change if local realities and communities’ expressed needs inform their use,” said Etienne. “The Haitian people must control the recovery process, and the US government must support a leading role for the Haitian government in planning and rebuilding the country.”