US begins honouring Haiti rebuilding pledge
WASHINGTON – The United States says it will begin honouring its pledge of financial aid to help Haiti rebuild following the January 12 earthquake that killed 300 000 people and left more than one million others homeless.
State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, said the Obama administration is sending US$120 million to the World Bank-run Haiti Reconstruction Fund as the first installment of the US$1.15 billion that Washington pledged at a donor’s conference in March.
“Having completed the process as outlined in the appropriation, we are now moving aggressively to commit that money to Haiti’s reconstruction,” he said.
Countries and international organisations on March 31 pledged nearly US$10 billion to rebuild Haiti after the devastating earthquake.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that nearly 50 donors pledged US$9.9 billion “for the next three years and beyond,” demonstrating that the international community had come together “dramatically and in solidarity with the Haitian people” to help them recover from the quake.
Haiti had appealed for US$3.8 billion for the next two years.
In September, the US Congress approved a spending plan that would allow the administration to begin releasing a portion of the pledge for Haiti’s reconstruction.
Former US President Bill Clinton, co-chair of the commission overseeing Haiti’s reconstruction, had expressed frustration with the slow delivery of promised funds by donors.
Before the US began honouring its pledge, Clinton said donors had only delivered about US$732 million in the promised funds.
He had singled out Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn for holding up an authorisation bill that could have eased the flow of money.
Coburn had objected to a US$5 million provision to create the office of a senior Haiti coordinator of US policy. (CMC)