Saturday, February 06, 2010

G7 nations pledge to cancel debts with quake-hit Haiti

The G7 group of the world's leading industrialised nations have pledged to write off the debts that Haiti owes them, following the devastating earthquake last month. At least one million people currently need aid in Haiti after the Magnitude 7 quake and more than 50 after-shocks. Latest estimates show that the disaster has killed more than 200,000 people; 300,000 injured have been treated; more than 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely damaged; Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced, homeless, orphans, in temporary shelters or been moved to huge refugee camps; Looting and other signs of chaos. Final figures may never be calulated.

This G7 decision comes as a result of broad-based, interational campaigning involving faith communities, trade uions, local action groups and relief and medical providers. in schools and colleges along with a huge range of other campaigning organisations including, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Save the Children and Red Cross.

Oxfam has urged the writing off of about an additional $900m (£557m) that Haiti still owes to donor countries and institutions. Oxfam have prouced a wide-ranging yet concise, set of recommedations relating to the reconstruction of Haiti, which can be downloaded here.

Reconstruction of this proud nation will be a huge and expensive challege and must include infrastructe, houses, transport links, commercial sector, medical and security issues, ameities and sanitation meeds, and reconstructio of rule of law and functions. It is important that internatioal organisations and goverments do not attempt to imposeb one "size fits all" solutions from outside. This opportunity to engage, empower, equip and encourage must start at base community grassroots. Whether now or in the future, rescue recovery and reconstructioh must never be or felt to be a military occupation.

All this will take time so it is important that we make a loger term commitment to Hiati. Otherwise, when the next disaster or significant world event emerges in media, priorities and resource allocation will be under pressure and slow dow. That is why the reconstruction of Hiati must meet local needs. In partnership with local people and most of all, be sustainable.

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