Haiti’s President René Préval (2nd L) embraced his Dominican Republic counterpart Leonel Fernández at the national airport after a meeting with U.N representatives in Port-au-Prince January 14, 2010. President Fernandez, the first foreign head of state to visit the devastated Haitian capital showed his solidarity with President Préval following the disaster, although Dominican authorities had stepped up immigration controls fearing an influx of migrants and convicts escaping from the wreckage of a Port-au-Prince prison.
Earlier, the Dominican president had expressed consternation that damaged infrastructure was preventing his Haitian counterpart from directing relief efforts. However, reports say that despite the new measures, more than 2,000 injured Haitians have been allowed to cross the border to receive medical treatment in the Dominican Republic as Fernández ordered hospitals to open their doors to the injured. Buses took the injured from earthquake-struck Port-au-Prince to the General Meleciano Hospital, 280 kilometers west of Santo Domingo.
Speaking after his return to the Dominican Republic, Fernández explained, “We met President Préval at the airport in Haiti, where he is based and is assessing the situation and prioritizing tasks. [. . .] Communications in Haiti should be re-established as soon as possible. President Préval needs to be in contact with his ministers to take measures.”
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