Bellerive talks about reconstruction efforts amid hurricane fears

Tom Brown of Reuters, interviews Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive about Haiti reconstruction plans.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton returns to Haiti this week in a bid to jump-start the quake-ravaged nation’s reconstruction as the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season looms over the Caribbean. Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive spoke of Clinton’s return to Port-au-Prince in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, saying he would preside over a meeting of the Haiti reconstruction commission. Clinton heads the commission together with Bellerive, who said Thursday’s meeting would be the first involving all its members. It is part of a sorely needed effort to better coordinate international aid efforts, Bellerive said.

In addition to approving specific rebuilding projects, Bellerive said he hoped the meeting — involving government officials from Brazil, France, the United States and Venezuela — would establish clear-cut guidelines for the disbursement of aid. More than $5 billion in aid was committed by about 140 countries after Haiti’s catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake. “We have a blueprint, we have a plan that everybody accepted,” Bellerive said. “Now, we need human resources, we need equipment, we need know-how, we need support.”

Critics, including some in recent protests on the rubble-strewn streets of Port-au-Prince, have accused the government of dragging its feet on reconstruction and in its overall response to the disaster. But Bellerive said some seemed to have forgotten the huge scale of the disaster, which killed more than 300,000 people and flattened much of the Haitian capital.  “It’s a big challenge,” he said. “We are facing the biggest disaster of the continent.”

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 and meteorologists predict this year will be a very active one. Bellerive said that lent a sense of urgency to reconstruction efforts.

More than 1.5 million Haitians are still living in makeshift tent cities and under plastic tarpaulins after being made homeless by the quake. They may have some shelter from torrential rains, but flash floods were a major concern. He said Clinton personally had taken charge of plans for emergency evacuations and storm response. “I hope that we will do what we have to do to avoid any casualties,” Bellerive said. “Psychologically we cannot handle more tears in Haiti.”

For the full Reuters report go to http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-49335520100616

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