US Pledges $1.15 Billion As Haiti Donors Conference Opens

An international donors conference on Haiti has opened at United Nations headquarters in New York, with the Caribbean country hoping to raise $3.8 billion for rebuilding after January’s earthquake. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began the conference by announcing the United States will pledge more than $1 billion toward Haiti’s reconstruction. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he envisions “wholesale national renewal” for Haiti.  He said the rebuilding process would be an exercise in nation-building on a scope and scale not seen in generations.
Mr. Ban is hosting the conference with Haitian President René Préval and U.S. Secretary of State Clinton. The roughly $3.8 billion that Haiti hopes to raise at Wednesday’s conference will be the first installment in a 10-year $11.5 billion reconstruction plan. Officials say the plan will focus on rebuilding schools, hospitals and other key infrastructure projects outside the capital, Port-au-Prince, in an effort to decentralize the nation’s economy.
Representatives from more than 100 countries are at the high-level donors conference. United Nations officials have said Haiti will seek the support from the international donors to cover reconstruction costs for the next 18 months.
On Tuesday, the U.N. said Haiti still needs immediate humanitarian assistance, even though international attention has shifted to long-term rebuilding.  The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says an initial U.N. appeal for humanitarian aid has been only 48 percent covered and contributions to Haiti have stalled.
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