Nations: Haiti Must Lead In Rebuilding Efforts
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Diplomats from many countries gathered in Montreal yesterday to discuss rebuilding Haiti. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among them, and she spoke with NPRs Michele Kelemen.
MICHELE KELEMEN: French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, says what was destroyed in minutes in Haiti will take years to rebuild. Canadas foreign minister Lawrence Cannon said the donors agreed to coordinate their efforts. They havent come up with a system to do that yet, but Secretary Clinton told NPR in an interview at the conference center in Montreal, that technical experts are looking for practical ways to use donor funds wisely.
Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (Department of State): My goal is that we'll be better organized and focused, so that we can get more results from what we're putting in, in the past, and then see what additional gaps exist. I think if you look at, say, Rwanda - terrible human catastrophe. Who would have thought that Rwanda would now be seeing economic increases in their GDP and be viewed as a real success story?
Or take Indonesia after the tsunami. The hardest hit part of Indonesia was Ache. There was an insurrection going on in Ache. It was a devastating blow when the tsunami came in and took tens of thousands of people and destroyed, for miles, into the land - what was there. Now, it's really come back.
But it's going to be a very challenging time because the Haitian government knows it has to change. The people's mindsets about education and the importance of choosing it, participating in democracy - I think we're going to see a good effort and ultimately it's up to the Haitian people. But there's a great willingness by the international community to help.
KELEMEN: And you talk about partnering rather than being a patron of Haiti or patronage. How do you do that when the government was decimated in this?
Sec. CLINTON: When I became secretary of state, I talked with President Obama about the need to have a concerted effort with respect to Haiti. So, for the past year, we have been working closely with the current Haitian government. We had plans, already in place, to follow through on agriculture, energy, security and the like.
When I went down to see President Preval a week ago Saturday, we talked, of course, about the immediate crisis and everything that had to be done. But he very clearly said, but we cannot lose all the work we've done. We need to take that work and make it better and build on it. So, I think we're in a good position to work with the Haitian government.
KELEMEN: But even getting the government back on its feet, I mean, the U.S., I guess, is offering some space - some workspace?
Sec. CLINTON: We are. We're offering some space; we're offering communications ability; we're offering security. I think we're going to be in a very positive position, working with the rest of the international community, to get prepared for the Donor's Conference in New York.
KELEMEN: But even as she and her colleagues talked about Haiti's future, the country's prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, reminded donors in Montr�al that there were many urgent needs still. He said there's a shortage of prosthetic devices and many, many new amputees. And he estimated that 400,000 families need emergency housing. With much of Port-au-Prince in ruins, many Haitians are fleeing to the countryside. As the prime minister put it, the whole country has changed - and that's another factor donors will have to consider.
Michele Kelemen, NPR News.
INSKEEP: So, here's a snapshot of where Haiti stands this morning: the United Nations says Haitian commerce is increasing as banks and supermarkets and gas stations start returning to operation. Also, today the U.N. is describing the capital as generally secure, though there has been some isolated looting. In another promising sign, there's word today that more police officers are reporting to duty, so that's the upside. The downside is that bodies remain trapped in rubble and authorities say up to one million people need shelter.
Haiti's president is asking the world for hundreds of thousands of tents, and in solidarity with people in tents, President Rene Preval also says he is going to move into a tent home on the lawn of his collapsed palace in downtown Port-au-Prince.
(Soundbite of music)
INSKEEP: This is NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.