Obama says Haiti situation remains dire 2 months after quake

Politics 3/10/2010 10:47:00 PM

WASHINGTON, March 10 (KUNA) -- Appearing with Haitian President Rene Preval after their White House meeting on Wednesday, President Barack Obama said two months after the earthquake in Haiti, the situation on the ground remains dire, and people should be under no illusions that the crisis is over.
"Many Haitians are still in need, desperate need in some cases, of shelter and food and medicine," Obama said. "And with the spring rains approaching, those needs will only grow. The challenge now is to prevent a second disaster." Thousands of Americans, both civilian and military, remain on the scene at the invitation of the Haitian government, Obama noted, "and that is why, even as the U.S. military responsibly hands off relief functions to our Haitian and international partners, Americ's commitment to Haiti's recovery and reconstruction must endure and will endure." Toward that end, the international donors conference at the United Nations later this month will be an important opportunity for all parties, Obama said.
"Haiti can lead the way, and will lead the way, with a strong vision for its future," he said. "The international community can pledge the resources that will be necessary for a coordinated and sustained effort. And working together, we can ensure that assistance not simply delivers relief for the short term, but builds up Haiti's capacity to deliver basic services and provide for the Haitian people over the long term." Preval said that the response from the international community -- "from Asia to Africa, from the United States, from Canada, from all of Latin America, from the Caribbean, from Europe, all the way to the Middle East -- this response, thanks to its swiftness, thanks to its size, was commensurate with the disaster." "... We must deal with the need of rebuilding Haiti, thanks to an effective decentralization policy -- namely, offering health care, education, jobs to all Haitians, men and women, regardless of where they live in the country, in order to prevent migratory flows toward the big cities, toward Port-au-Prince, " Preval said.
At the March 31 UN conference to support the reconstruction of Haiti, Preval said he hopes "all participants will share this philosophy, this vision, of decentralization." (end) rm.rk KUNA 102247 Mar 10NNNN