As aid pledges and relief supplies continue to pour into Haiti, top development leaders have also flown in the earthquake-ravaged nation over the weekend to strengthen the support for Haitian victims.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for one, said Jan. 16 that the American government is ready to work closely with Haiti to restore the Caribbean nation's electricity, transportation and communications systems.

"As President Obama has said, we will be here today, tomorrow and for the time ahead," Clinton said during her meeting with Haitian President Rene Preval.

The highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Haiti since the massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake, Clinton was accompanied by U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah.

Clinton also defended the U.S. forces, who are now controlling the main airport in Port-au-Prince, against criticisms that aid supplies are heaping up in the airport.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who touched down on the nation's capital Jan. 17., pledged support for the earthquake victims.

The U.N. "will continue to stand behind the Haitian people," Ban said.

The U.N. chief met with his former spokesperson, Michele Montas, who is a local of the earthquake-devastated nation.

The World Food Program intends to begin feeding 1 million people in two weeks and 2 million people in one month, Ban said.

Meanwhile, Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Moreno is also scheduled to arrive in Haiti Jan. 18, where he is expected to participate in a preparatory donor meeting for the Caribbean nation. The event will be hosted by Dominican President Leonel Fernández. President Preval and representatives of other governments and aid agencies are expected to attend the meeting.

Donor summit under way

Donor nations will gather Jan. 25 in Montreal to plan reconstruction efforts in Haiti, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said.

"The Montreal meeting will provide an opportunity to reassess the situation in Haiti and ensure that the United Nations can focus international efforts to better help the Haitian people meet the challenges and prepare for long-term stabilization and reconstruction," Cannon said.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and U.S. Secretary of State Clinton are due to take part in the donor summit, which was earlier proposed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

European development ministers, meanwhile, are also scheduled to hold an emergency meeting in Brussels Jan. 18 to discuss a reconstruction plan for Haiti, according to European Union's new foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.

Ashton has been working to convene humanitarian aid, development and civil protection officials of the European Commission as well as experts from the European Council representing individual governments, said Ashton's spokesman Lutz Gullner.

More post-earthquake aid

Turkey has committed $1 million in financial aid to Haiti. The pledge is on top of the relief materials sent by the Turkish health ministry and Red Crescent, including mobile hospital, medicine, medical equipment, tents, blankets and food.

Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are also teaming up with the Obama administration to mobilize funding to rehabilitate Haiti.

"Our longer-term effort will not be measured in days or weeks; it will be measured in months and years," said President Barack Obama.

The new campaign, which aims to replicate the 2004 tsunami aid efforts spearheaded by Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, seeks to the ensure American public that their contributions will reach Haitian quake victims.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden also reiterated Obama's pledge for long-term support for the impoverished Caribbean nation.

President Obama "does not view this as a humanitarian mission that is going to have a life cycle of a month," according to Biden. "This will be on our radar screen - dead center - long after it is off of the CNN crawl at the bottom of the screen."

The U.N. has also launched a $550 million aid appeal for earthquake-ravaged Haiti. The sum, according to U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes, will be used to immediately provide food, water, shelter and other essential items to some 3 million Haitians hit hardest by the earthquake.

Some $360 million has so far been pledged for Haiti but not the entire sum is allotted for emergency aid, Holmes said.

Meanwhile, the World Bank intends to establish a reconstruction fund for Haiti.

"This provides an option for the conference that (French) President (Nicolas) Sarkozy is calling, and some countries might find it more efficient and convenient to contribute through the trust fund," said World Bank chief Robert Zoellick.

Zoellick added that the fund will "coordinate further support from both bilateral and multilateral donors."

Private sector aid for Haiti

Private firms were also quick to respond to the situation in Haiti. American companies contributed more than $43 million within the first three days after Tuesday's massive earthquake, according to Stephen Jordan, executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Business Civic Leadership Center. Twenty-two firms including Microsoft Corp., Lowe's Cos., and Abbott Laboratories committed some $1 million as of Jan. 15, according to the chamber.

Other firms vowed to provide money, water services, clothing and medicine, as well as engineers to help repair the nation's infrastructure.

Haiti recovery unit

While the U.N. confirmed that the body of its Haiti mission chief Hedi Annabi has been found, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton proposed the creation of a joint coordinating unit that will assist the Haitian government in rebuilding its nation following the massive earthquake.

It has been reported that Clinton said the U.S. is ready to staff the new unit.

Meanwhile, Lewis Lucke, a former top USAID official and ambassador, has been appointed by the U.S. government as its point person in the field for aid efforts in Haiti. Lucke previously served as USAID deputy mission director in Port-au-Prince from 2000 to 2001.

About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.