Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back to Soleil...It IS Time to Help Haiti

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(Photo by John Carroll, M.D.)

Miami Herald Editorial, June 23, 2009

It's time to help Haiti

OUR OPINION: Donors who pledged $300 million in aid must deliver on promises

As of last week, when Haitian Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis visited Miami and this editorial board, Haiti still had not received a penny of the $300 million in hurricane aid promised to the storm-ravaged island by the international community at a donors conference in April.

This is an unacceptably slow response to Haiti's critical needs. With June almost over, the most dangerous part of the hurricane season will soon be upon us. If aid is not received soon, it will be too late to prevent a repetition of the series of disasters that occurred last year when Haiti was hit by four consecutive storms within a matter of weeks, inflicting death, misery and enormous economic damage.

Haiti has barely begun to recover from the trauma of last year's punishing storms, but its needs are vast and its resources are scant. Without international help it cannot reasonably hope to be ready for this year's Caribbean storms, which strike with regularity at this time of year on Hispaniola and other islands in Hurricane Alley.

Ms. Pierre-Louis rightly expressed frustration with the international community's failure to deliver on its promises. This is not just about building up the nation's infrastructure, but about enabling Haiti to make reasonable plans for a viable economic future.

It's time for the donors to pony up. A promise made should be a promise delivered, particularly for a country where the needs are great and millions live in poverty.

Meanwhile, five U.S. members of Congress from South Florida made a worthwhile trip to Haiti on Monday to underscore the need for the United States to grant temporary protected status to Haitians already in this country.

It makes no sense whatsoever for this country to be offering aid and economic support for Haiti and at the same time deporting Haitians who don't meet the proper immigration requirements. These are the very people whose money transfers to friends and family on the island provide the most direct source of aid. They should remain here while Haiti rebuilds. Here, they can work and help family back home. In Haiti they would only add to the ranks of the needy.

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