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Rebuilding Haiti 'will take years'
Prime minister urges international support, but says Haiti must lead reconstruction.
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2010 23:24 GMT

Bellerive, left, Harper, centre, and Clinton, right, called for a reconstruction plan to aid Haiti [REUTERS]

Rebuilding Haiti's shattered infrastructure in the aftermath of the January 12 earthquake could take 10 years, delegates at a conference aimed at securing long-term aid for the country have been told.

Jean-Max Bellerive, Haiti's prime minister, told ministers and aid workers in Montreal, Canada that his country had been "bloodied, martyred and ruined" and would need extensive support from international donors.

"My country witnessed not only buildings and infrastructure collapse, but it was viscerally affected by the loss of hundreds of thousands of human lives,' Bellerive said.

"The people of Haiti will need to be helped to face this colossal work of reconstruction."

At least 150,000 people are believed to have been killed and many thousands more made homeless following the 7.0 magnitude quake that left much of the capital Port-au-Prince in ruins.

'Hard work'

Hosting the meeting, Stephen Harper, Canada's prime minister, warned that the rebuilding effort could take "at least 10 years of hard work".

"We must work to ensure that every resource committed, every relief worker, every vehicle, every dollar is used as effectively as possible," he said.

special report
Special Report: Haiti earthquake

"We must hold ourselves and each other accountable for the commitments we make.

"I would like to see emerge from this meeting the beginning of a plan that will guide reconstruction in Haiti in a way that is effective, co-ordinated and strategic for the decade to come."

His comments came shortly before the United States announced plans to host an international conference of donors in New York next month to raise money for Haiti.

But despite the challenges his country faces, Bellerive insisted that efforts to rebuild Haiti must be led from inside the country, rather than by foreign governments or aid organisations.

"Haitians continue to work in precarious conditions but it is in the position to assume the leadership expected of it by its people in order to relaunch the country on the path to reconstruction," he said.

International effort

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said Washington would stand by Haiti in its efforts to work toward reconstruction.

"It's important that we see ourselves as partners of Haiti, not patrons; that we work intensely together to produce results that can be seen and felt by the Haitians themselves," she said.

"Our goal is a peaceful and prosperous future for the people of Haiti. Many of us have a great commitment to Haiti that precedes the tragedy of the earthquake.

"The Obama administration was committed to working with Haiti and we stand ready to continue to do all that we can to help realise this better future for the Haitians."

Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim, Brazil's foreign minister and a conference participant, told Al Jazeera that the reconstruction effort would only be succesful if more countries became involved.

"One of the things that will come out from this conference is the idea of a bigger, structured donor conference and it will be important that countries from the Middle East, Arab countries, countries from Asia, come and show their solidarity," he said.

The Brazilian official also praised the international efforts to help the thousands of Haitians who need emergency aid following the quake.

"I was in Haiti just last Saturday and its natural that there should be some lack of co-ordination in the beginning.

"But things are coming back to some sort of normalisation in that respect and the aid is getting to those who are in need."

Exodus

The meeting on Monday came as tens of thousands of Haitians continued to leave crowded tent cities in Port-au-Prince to find refuge elsewhere.

The United Nations has said that more than 130,000 people have already left the destroyed capital, and the Haitian authorities are encouraging the exodus, offering free bus rides to take them to the southwestern and northern parts of the country.

An estimated one million people were left homeless in the earthquake [EPA]
Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds, reporting from Port-au-Prince, said the process of delivering aid to the thousands in transit has been difficult.

"This is a painfully slow process and things just don't happen very quickly. The people are on the move but the aid hasn't quite caught up with them.

"There are an estimated 700,000 people living on the streets of Port-au-Prince right now. The estimated number of homeless is about one million.

"It's a situation that requires immediate action. The tents are coming in, but not very quickly."

At the meeting in Montreal, Bellerive said Rene Preval, the Haitian president, had called him to press urgently for a further 200,000 tents for people who lost their homes.

However, John Holmes, the UN emergency relief co-ordinator, said stronger temporary structures would be needed for Haitians to face the start of the rains in April and hurricanes in June.

"Tents, while the only shelter solution available quickly enough now, will not be much good for these purposes," he said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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