Congresswoman Maxine Waters: “I’m extremely hopeful for Haiti’s future following the U.N. Donor Conference”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), a leading advocate in Congress for assistance to and development of Haiti, attended the International Donors' Conference for Haiti at the United Nations (U.N.) yesterday where leaders and representatives of the world's nations pledged $9.9 billion in aid – including $5.3 billion for the first two years, far exceeding Haiti's goal of $3.9 billion. The Congresswoman attended policy discussions and donor pledging sessions, and met with former President Bill Clinton, the U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti.
After the conference she issued the following statement:
"Attending the donor conference at the U.N. today was a continuation of my longtime concern for Haiti and its people. I have worked for many years to assist Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, by promoting debt forgiveness, aid for development, the building of democratic institutions, and the protection of human rights.
Following my two visits to Port-au-Prince since the earthquake, I have worked closely with Haitian-Americans, believing like so many that the Haitian diaspora will be most effective in helping Haiti get back on its feet and move forward. I had a chance to speak with Haitians in the diaspora at a recent conference at the Organization of American States (OAS) and again today at the U.N., where they were strongly represented and organized.
I was inspired by the tone and the substance of today's conference, and I'm extremely proud of the leadership of both Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, who now serves as the U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti. They led informative presentations and discussions on the way forward for Haiti. I am convinced that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has a strong understanding of the challenges facing the country and is committed to its long-term development. And of course, the U.S. government's support for Haiti is clear: both chambers of Congress have passed legislation I authored to cancel Haiti's debt held by international financial institutions, and the $1.15 billion pledged by the U.S. at yesterday's conference is an impressive addition to the almost $1 billion our country has already committed to Haiti.
Haitian President René Préval and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive were impressive as they explained their plan to put Haiti on a path to stability and prosperity. In particular, President Préval made an impassioned and serious request about the need to invest in education for Haiti's youngest citizens, which he plans to make a top priority in the new Haiti.
There is a strong consensus that the Haitian government must and will take the lead on the initiative to renew Haiti. And I am confident that the Haitian government realizes that in order to rebuild and advance the country, there must be transparency, accountability and effective efforts to deal with corruption. The recent disclosure of salaries by high-ranking Haitian officials is an important start in this endeavor.
The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, to be co-chaired by Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bellerive, will be an important organizational mechanism to track donations and redevelopment efforts and to make sure all parties operate openly and with accountability. This Commission, which will include representatives from the Haitian government, donor countries, international organizations, international financial institutions, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), will be instrumental in laying the groundwork for a new Haiti.
I look forward to continuing to work with the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations, the international financial institutions, the NGOs and the Haitians on the ground – in conjunction with the Commission – to help Haiti recover, rebuild, and prosper.
I leave the donor conference feeling extremely hopeful for Haiti's future."