World Leaders Plan Haiti Aid Effort

World Leaders Plan Haiti Aid Effort
# 26 January 2010 01:42 (UTC +04:00)
Baku. Ayaz Abdulla – APA. The U.S. will host an international conference at the U.N. headquarters in early March to raise money to rebuild Haiti, where the local economy is slowly starting to show its first signs of life following the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, APA reports quoting Wall Street Journal.
The impoverished Caribbean country will need foreign reconstruction money for the next five to 10 years, Haiti’s Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told representatives of 10 countries gathered in Montreal on Monday to map out the outlines of a long-term rebuilding effort.
Among the attendees were U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
Both Haitian officials and those from other nations agreed that future aid should help Haiti diversify its economy away from the crowded capital Port-au-Prince and help provide people with more jobs in the countryside. A mass exodus of survivors from the quake-torn capital is already underway.
"I was quite heartened to hear the prime minister say that as part of our multilateral efforts to assist Haiti, we should look at how we decentralize economic opportunity and work with the Haitian Government and people to support resettlement," Mrs. Clinton told a news conference.
For those that have stayed behind in the capital, regular commercial activity slowly returned to the city on Monday, as Haitians who lost everything in the devastating earth nearly two weeks need everything from clothes to nails.
With tens of thousands of people sleeping in the streets, Haitians are in desperate need of food, shelter, water and medicine. But they also need products to rebuild their homes and get by in every day life, such as a change of clothes. Haitians also got access to cash again as banks reopened to the general public last weekend.
Guerda Joseph, 32, on Monday opened her shoe store for the first time since the quake because she needed money. She had only about $14 of cash on hand when the earthquake hit and she had almost run out of it.
Yoliene Louis, 23, was in Ms. Joseph’s store buying a pair of sandals. Her home collapsed in the quake and she lost everything, including her clothes and shoes. "I’m just buying one pair because that’s all I can afford," she said. "I also need clothes, dishes, everything."
Although many shops remain closed, large supermarkets like Foodmax and Big Starmarket saw a fair amount of customers by Monday morning, as armed guards stood outdoors to prevent looting.
There was also a long line outside Digicel cell phone stores, with Haitians looking to buy scratch cards to charge phones, purchase cell phones or transfer old phone numbers to new phones since their old mobile was damaged in the quake.
With power out in most of the city, generators, flashlights and multiple plug outlets are also popular items.
Merchants said sales of alcohol have also increased, as people drink beer or rum to cope with the stress of struggling to survive the quake’s aftermath. Energy drinks, like Toro and Ragaman, are also popular.
"If I have 100 cases of Toro, they will be gone in one hour," said store owner Nixon Licette, 31, who mainly sells those products wholesale. "The business is helping me survive this mess."
Etrice Augustine, a 50-year-old hardware store owner, said his most popular product is nails, a much needed product for rebuilding. Mr. Augustine managed to reopen his store the day after the quake and is hoping that as reconstruction picks up, business will increase.
"There is so much to be done and I’m hoping that will be good for my business," he said.