Int'l donor conference for Haiti opens at UN

21:50, March 31, 2010      

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An international donor conference started Wednesday at U.N. headquarters in New York to secure the financial resources necessary to rebuild Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake.

The conference, with the theme of "Towards a New Future in Haiti," was convened to demonstrate the international community's commitment to the people of Haiti as they struggle to rebuild their lives after the massive earthquake, which killed more than 220,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless.

Haitian President Rene Preval is to present a reconstruction plan to the international donor conference, at which U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.N. special envoy for Haiti, former U.S. President Bill Clinton are also present

"Our goal is not to rebuild," Ban told the opening of the conference. "It is to 'build back better'."

"What we envision, today, is wholesale national renewal, a sweeping exercise in nation-building on a scale and scope not seen in generations," Ban said.

"Over the next 10 years, Haiti's reconstruction needs will total an estimated 11.5 billion U.S. dollars," the secretary-general said.

Haiti's target for the conference is to raise 3.9 billion U.S. dollars for the initial 18-month period of the country's recovery and reconstruction, U.N. officials said here.

"For weeks, experts have been assessing the needs and costs of the Jan. 12 earthquake," Ban said.

The total value of damage and losses sustained has been calculated at approximately 7 billion U.S. dollars, more than 120 percent of Haiti's 2009 gross domestic product. Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western hemisphere before the massive earthquake.

The conference is co-chaired by Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France and Spain. Representatives from more than 130 countries are participating.

Source:Xinhua
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