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Opinions: U.S. Funding For Global Emergencies; Haiti Reconstruction

U.S. Must Ensure Funding For Humanitarian Needs In Global Emergencies

In a Politico opinion piece, Dan Glickman, who recently became the president of Refugees International, discusses the importance of U.S. funding for emergencies worldwide. “Recent events have shown how quickly people can be uprooted. The earthquake in Haiti left more than 700,000 people homeless. A further 600,000 people have fled Port-au-Prince. USAID’s foreign disaster assistance office has already spent on Haiti more than 40 percent of its annual budget. But the U.S. effort is far from complete. Millions of Haitians are still desperate for food, water, shelter and protection from abuse and exploitation,” Glickman, a former congressman and Clinton administration official, writes.

“Not every crisis comes on as suddenly,” he continues. “Washington must ensure that programs for Haiti are not funded at the expense of other emergencies. For example, seven years after the start of the war in Iraq, nearly 500,000 Iraqis are still living in squatter slums, without water and basic sanitation. … It is critical that the U.S. government provide political and financial support to avoid a humanitarian crisis. We must do these things – and not just because they are morally right. We do them because it is in America’s best interests,” according to Glickman, a member of Congress between 1977 and 1995 (4/2).

Donors, NGOs, Haitian Government Must Cooperate For Successful Haiti Reconstruction

Though aid donations exceeded goals of a recent donor conference for Haiti, “the urgent challenge of covering Haiti’s deficit” remains and “[a]fter that, the broader agenda for lifting Haiti from its current wretched state remains daunting, long and complex,” according to a Washington Post editorial outlining the opportunities and challenges facing the effort to rebuild Haiti. “There are encouraging signs that Haiti’s government and interim reconstruction agency … will incorporate tough anti-corruption measures pushed by World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick and others,” the editorial notes. “Haitian officials also say they are prepared to accept an important role for outside experts in the reconstruction agency and to adhere to strict rules for transparency and accountability so that the allotment and status of funding is available online.” On the other hand, it is not clear whether “non-governmental aid organizations in Haiti – a huge but fractured sector and a critical part of relief and rebuilding – are prepared to coordinate their efforts with the government and the interim reconstruction agency,” according to the Washington Post.

Former President Bill “Clinton, who has taken a personal interest in Haiti for decades, brings energy and his usual political savvy to the project of rebuilding Haiti … His efforts, and those of international donors, must be matched by those of Haiti’s government and the hundreds of nongovernmental organizations operating there. Without that, this hopeful moment will pass, and Haiti’s misery will deepen,” the editorial concludes (4/2).

Hope For Haiti Because Of What Donors ‘Pledged Not To Do’

The recent “donors conference for Haiti at the United Nations was strikingly hopeful, in good part because of what participants pledged not to do,” according to a New York Times editorial. “[M]ajor donor countries promised not to repeat the old failed strategy of poorly coordinated projects that wither through waste and neglect. … The promises are accompanied by an ambitious plan to build new roads, ports, bridges and desperately needed housing outside the shattered capital of Port-au-Prince.”

“There are still a lot of buts. Pledges need to turn into donations. … We, too, are leery of handing cash directly to Haiti’s government, but the call for budget support has the persuasive endorsement of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund,” according to the editorial.

“Many excellent-sounding ideas have not yet been fleshed out,” the newspaper notes, pointing to plans for the interim reconstruction committee, which will be led by U.N. Envoy to Haiti Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. “Haiti is awash in promises. Haitians need to see results. If dismal history repeats itself, this week would be the high point of optimism, followed by a long slide into disillusionment and failure. That must not happen again,” the editorial concludes (4/2).