US offers to host Haiti conference

Monday 25 January 2010 22.53
Haiti - Devastating earthquake 13 days ago
Haiti - Devastating earthquake 13 days ago

The United States has offered to host a pledging conference of international aid donors to Haiti at the UN in March.

Haiti: Earthquake coverage/donation information
Photographs: Haiti in Pictures

The announcement was made in Montreal by the Canadian foreign minister at the end of an initial meeting to survey immediate needs and begin planning Haiti's long-term recovery.

The Haitian Prime Minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, told the meeting that Haiti needed at least five to 10 years of reconstruction help after its people were ‘bloodied, martyred and ruined’ by this month's devastating quake.

Earlier, EU foreign ministers agreed to send a mission of just over 300 police officers to help ensure aid distribution in Haiti.

EU officials told reporters in Brussels that the officers would mainly be from France and Italy.

The move came as the Irish Government decided to commit a further 40 tonnes of emergency aid to Haiti.

This is in addition to a consignment of 80 tonnes sent last week, and more than €2m in direct funding to the UN and Irish NGOs.

An Irish aid team has also been examining how the Irish Government can respond to the disaster.

A report on what Ireland can do in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake will be made to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, later this week.

Japan has meanwhile announced that it will pledge $70m (€49.5m) in aid to Haiti and deploy as many as 300 peacekeepers to the UN mission in the Caribbean nation.

The aid includes $25m in emergency assistance and $45m for long-term reconstruction.

The pledges came as UN Chief of Mission in Haiti, Edmond Mulet, called for more manpower and vehicles to help relief efforts following the devastating quake 13 days ago.

Mr Mulet's predecessor was killed when the UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince collapsed on 12 January.

International donors are also meeting today in Montreal to discuss rebuilding Haiti after the worst recorded disaster to hit the Americas.

At the conference, the US, Canada, France, Brazil and other donors will attempt to craft long-term strategies to lift crippled Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, on to a path to recovery.

The confirmed death toll from the earthquake is now being put at 150,000 - that is based on bodies collected in and around Port-au-Prince.

However, it does not include the thousands more that remain buried in the rubble of collapsed builds.