Group of friends of Haiti supports upcoming elections and development plan

WASHINGTON, DC – In a meeting at the Organization of American States (OAS), the Group of Friends of Haiti expressed support for the upcoming senatorial elections, as well as the postponed donor conference to fund the implementation of the National Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction (DSNCRP), as it met this week in Washington D.C. to review ongoing projects and discuss future plans and initiatives that are taking place in the context of the efforts to strengthen stability and socio-economic development in the Caribbean nation.

Ambassador Albert Ramdin, OAS Assistant Secretary General, and Chair of the Group, presented a general update on the political climate and recent developments in Haiti. He also gave an overview of the OAS work in that country in areas such as: voter registration, security, international cooperation, economy, food security, and the initiatives taken to support the victims of the 4 hurricanes that hit Haiti late last year.

Highlighting the success of the work done by the OAS to promote the civil registry program in Haiti, Ambassador Ramdin pointed out that “under the OAS auspices a total of 4.1 million Haitians, 92% of the adult population, have been registered. This is a very important achievement for Haiti, where in the past having an identity card was not a reality.” In the context of this registration process, 141 permanent offices of national identity were opened covering 100% of the country.

Referring to the vulnerability of the country to hurricanes, Ambassador Ramdin pointed out that “a sustained effort will be necessary to mitigate the impact of these phenomena. Bold decisions are required; not only at the structural level, but also at the political level to be able to enhance natural disaster mitigation, recovery and reconstruction.

Ambassador Ramdin also briefed the Group about an important new initiative among the University of West Indies, the Universite d’Etat d’Haiti, and Université Quisqueya to explore partnership opportunities and to share best practices that would lead to the enhancement of the quality of their academic programs. Under the OAS auspices, these institutions agreed to establish mechanisms to further collaboration through exchange programs, scholarships, and joint research in areas like disaster mitigation, biodiversity, and promotion of entrepreneurship. ”This initiative can be the beginning of a longstanding effort of sustained capacity building mainly for Haiti, but also for the rest of the Caribbean,” said Ramdin.

Following Ramdin’s statement, Ambassador Duly Brutus, Permanent Representative of Haiti to the OAS, explained some of the political challenges that his country will be facing in 2009, and the overall views and goals of President Préval for this year. He recognized that “without the support of the members of the Group of Friends of Haiti it would not have been possible to face the difficult time we went through in 2008, mostly during and after the hurricane season.”

Participants in the meeting also shared additional information about initiatives undertaken to support the Haitian government and people. Representatives from Canada, Brazil, and Jamaica, as well as from multilateral organizations such as the European Commission, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reiterated their commitment to Haiti and highlighted the positive impact of the Group of Friends’ work.

Assistant Secretary General Ramdin will be visiting Haiti shortly to meet with government official and discuss issues regarding the upcoming elections, among other things. He will also meet with representatives from the UN agencies and other organizations to discuss further assistance to the Caribbean country.

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