(No. 221 - July 12, 2010 - 5:00 p.m. ET) The following is an edited transcript of a statement made to media by the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on the situation in Haiti. The statement was made at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada headquarters at 11 a.m. on Monday, July 12, 2010:
“It is today six months since a devastating earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010.
“Canada responded quickly to the earthquake and has assumed a leadership role in Haiti’s recovery and reconstruction.
“In response to the crisis and to facilitate international coordination, Canada hosted the Ministerial Preparatory Conference on Haiti in Montreal on January 25. Participants agreed on key principles, objectives and next steps to guide international efforts on Haiti’s reconstruction and development.
“Canada then co-chaired the International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti, held in New York on March 31. At that conference, participants confirmed the Montreal Principles, and Canada pledged $400 million over two years to support the Haiti Action Plan, which reflects the current needs and priorities in Haiti.
“In May, I had the opportunity to travel to Haiti, where I witnessed Canadian contributions at work toward Haiti’s reconstruction, which I found very encouraging. I reiterated to Haitians that we are committed to their country for the long term.
“Progress is being made, and money disbursed every day, toward addressing ongoing humanitarian needs in Haiti and projects designed to help the country rebuild its vital systems and structures.
“New projects to address the immediate stabilization and security needs of Haiti are being implemented. These projects offer training, equipment and the infrastructure necessary for the police to fulfill their mandate to protect Haitians, and to enforce security at borders and within communities. At the request of the Haitian government, we are also acting to reform the prison system and facilitate access to justice for victims of the disaster.
“Donors are beginning to honour pledges made at the New York conference, and contributions are being made to the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, a partnership between the Government of Haiti and the international community. This mechanism, along with the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission, will ensure that international efforts are channelled in a coordinated manner, avoiding duplication and inconsistency, and that funds committed by donors are allocated effectively and transparently.
“Rebuilding Haiti is a momentous task that will take sustained effort and long-term commitment. It is not simply a matter of rebuilding the country’s infrastructure. Rather, Haiti’s key institutions and systems must be reconstructed from the ground up, with Haitians at the helm, supported by the international community.
“Under difficult circumstances, the Government of Haiti has demonstrated solid leadership and ownership over its recovery and reconstruction process. We must continue to work with Haitian officials, ensuring our efforts are addressing the country’s most pressing needs.
“Six months after the earthquake, we should be encouraged by the progress that has been made but cognizant of all that is left to be done.
“I understand very well the impatience that many feel concerning the extremely difficult situation in which tens of thousands of Haitians still find themselves.
“We must nevertheless remember that Haiti’s reconstruction is a long-term task—at least 10 years according to the best estimates.
“As we more forward in the reconstruction phase, we will continue to make progress in an efficient manner, addressing Haiti’s most pressing needs and priorities.”
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Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
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Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada