Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding (left) greets United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, at the opening of the 31st Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Montego Bay on Sunday. It was the first time that a UN Secretary-General was attending a meeting of Heads of Government of CARICOM.
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (JIS) — Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has commended the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for the support and solidarity extended to Haiti in the wake of the January earthquake, which devastated parts of that island.
Ban was speaking at the opening ceremony for the 31st Regular Meeting of Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on Sunday, July 4.
"Thank you for your support and commitment.CARICOM countries, institutions and citizens demonstrated profound solidarity with your newest member, made Haiti a priority, and played a key role as an advocate for recovery," he said.
The Secretary-General noted the appointment of a special representative to Haiti, and the creation of an office to oversee the reconstruction efforts. He added that continued engagement was essential to ensuring sustained and long term attention to Haiti’s needs.
"Haiti is also a priority for the United Nations," he remarked.
Ban commended the leadership of Haiti in President Rene Preval and his team, pointing out that six months after the quake, the Government and people had accomplished much, in collaboration with the international community.
"Thousands of survivors have received medical assistance, emergency shelters have been distributed to more than 1.5 million people.widespread hunger and disease have been averted.children are back in school and commercial life has resumed," he stated.
He noted however that humanitarian needs would remain for many months to come, and that recovery would take years, and consistent efforts to achieve.
"Promises will not feed the people of Haiti, pledges alone will not shelter them I am working to expedite to help that the people of Haiti need," he assured.
Meanwhile, Ban said the upcoming November elections would be fundamental in ensuring Haiti’s democratic future.
"It is essential that they are transparent and credible. We are working with the government of Haiti and international partners to support that process. I am grateful for CARICOM’s support," he told the gathering, which included Heads, regional government representatives, members of the diplomatic corps., Jamaican Ministers of Government, and other special guests, including Secretary General of the Organisation of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza.
The meeting of conference of Heads will explore a number of critical issues including: Progress in the Implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy; climate change priorities; external trade negotiations; the global economic and financial crisis; Haiti’s recovery and development; and crime and security in the region.