OAS reaffirms support for Haiti disaster relief

Caribbean Net news
Published on Saturday, October 4, 2008

WASHINGTON, USA: The OAS has reaffirmed its pledge of ongoing assistance to Haiti’s emergency disaster relief efforts, with Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin hailing as “very good news for us” the country’s Public Health Minister’s statement that medical and other key facilities will be rebuilt in areas not prone to disasters.

Ramdin praised the Haitian decision as he received Alex Larsen, the newly appointed Haitian Health Minister for a visit to the Organization’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., last week. Ramdin remarked that it was also significant that the Haitian authorities are thinking “structurally” because a structural approach to disaster mitigation is vital.

OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin Meets with Haiti’s Minister of Health, Alex Larsen. By Patricia Leiva/OAS photos

The Haitian minister updated the OAS official on government’s recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts after a series of deadly storms and hurricanes struck Haiti and other Caribbean countries recently. He spoke about the clean-up already underway in Gonaïves and other cities hardest hit, noting the significant amount of work to be done. Larsen was accompanied by his chief of staff, Ariel Henry, and Alternate Representative of Haiti to the OAS Ambassador Antonio Rodrigue, among others.

“It was good to understand the problems and needs and to learn from him what they have put in place in terms of dealing with the situation,” said Ramdin, noting the significance of meeting with the Haitian health minister as short-term emergency relief approaches an end and given that the next phase will entail addressing many health-related issues.

Ramdin also welcomed the minister’s indication that the authorities in Haiti will be very keenly monitoring the food aid distribution to ensure it reaches the neediest. This helps to boost international confidence in the system, noted Ramdin who added that the OAS-affiliated Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) has also been involved in the process in Haiti.

The PADF’s Executive Director, John Sanbrailo, was also on hand to provide Minister Larsen with an update on the Foundation’s contributions and ongoing mobilization of resources to aid Haiti. So far, the PADF has mobilized more than $1million in support on top of other aid already being provided by way of food, clean water, tents and shelter, among other much-needed items.

“The OAS is trying to mobilize everything we can,” added Ramdin, who pointed out the importance of also lending the new Haitian government political support.

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