WASHINGTON, USA -- Representatives of foreign missions from countries across the Western Hemisphere on Thursday met at the Headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, DC to assess the damage to Haiti following the passage of Tropical Storm Isaac.
The meeting, convened by the Chairman of the Haiti Task Force, OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin, also brought together representatives of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF.) Several European observer states were also present.
According to Ramdin, who addressed the group following direct conversations with Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, the meeting was convened to seek specific support for the agriculture and livestock sectors, which have been hit hard by the storm. Preliminary reports presented at the meeting indicate that over 81,000 hectares under cultivation have been damaged, including crops of bananas, coffee, avocado and citrus. Initial assessments also indicate approximately $242 million worth of damage to Haiti’s agriculture and agricultural infrastructure.
Governments of several OAS member states, including the neighbouring Dominican Republic have begun to mobilize support. Representatives of the Dominican Republic informed the meeting that mobile food units have been sent across the border to provide meals to tens of thousands of people who have been affected by the storm. Other member states have pledged to facilitate and coordinate the movement of heavy agricultural equipment to replant crops.
In expressing condolences to the people of Haiti following the loss of life, Ramdin called on the international community to mobilize more support for the permanent relocation of over 400,000 people living in tent cities.
“The dismantling of tent cities is a priority. So far the combined efforts of the government and international partners have led to a decrease in the number of people living in tents, from 1.5 million to 400,000, but there is still a long way to go. International financial institutions in particular must continue to work with other stakeholders and the government to source support for this priority,” added Ramdin.
The OAS assistant secretary general also recognized the significant efforts by the government of Haiti to evacuate close to 15,000 people from communities at risk including those living in tent cities, prior to the storm.
“This is the first time an evacuation of this scale has been carried out, and so quickly. The government of Haiti moved swiftly to prevent a disaster of an even greater magnitude. We must continue to provide support. It’s a long term commitment,” Ramdin added.