Tags: Haiti | billions | quake | rebuild

Haiti Seeks Billions for Massive Cleanup and Build

Wednesday, 10 Mar 2010 09:28 AM

With his country's economy stalled, crops unplanted and a million people without homes, Haitian President René Préval began a visit to Washington Tuesday to focus on how U.S. and international donors can help the beleaguered nation recover from a devastating earthquake.

The Haitian government is racing to finish a blueprint on which it will to base its requests for potentially record-breaking aid commitments at a United Nations conference this month. The Jan. 12 quake killed more than 200,000 people, and the Inter-American Development Bank has estimated that the damage could hit $14 billion.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday after talks with Préval that "progress has been made, but not nearly enough, and therefore we are holding these meetings . . . to discuss in depth what we need to do still to alleviate suffering and what we will do together to help build back Haiti better."

Among the few specifics she offered was that Préval is eager to hold parliamentary elections. A vote had been scheduled for February but was canceled because of the disaster.

"I assured President Préval that the United States would work with the international community to hold elections as soon as possible," Clinton said.

With the March 31 donors conference rapidly approaching, U.S. officials and lawmakers appeared eager to nail down Haiti's priorities and plans. Congressional staffers said they expect the administration to request an aid package of between $1 billion and $3 billion in the coming weeks.

Préval is likely to find a sympathetic but skeptical audience when he meets with President Obama, congressional leaders and other officials who have seen past assistance to Haiti evaporate in a miasma of mismanagement and corruption.

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Wednesday, 10 Mar 2010 09:28 AM
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