8 September 2009 The United Nations is committed to helping Haiti improve the delivery of basic services, strengthen its response to disasters and attract private investment, Paul Farmer pledged today, as he wrapped up his first visit to the Caribbean nation as a senior official for the world body.
“You have my word that we will not let you down,” said Dr. Farmer, who serves as the UN Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti, at the end of his five-day visit.
Dr. Farmer’s visit follows up on the mission carried out in July by former US President Bill Clinton, who serves as the UN Special Envoy for Haiti, to assess how best to support the Government in its national development and recovery efforts.
“This island nation is one I am deeply committed to,” he stated, “and I intend to do whatever it takes to support President Clinton and the people of Haiti in our joint effort of creating new jobs, improving the delivery of basic services, strengthening disaster recovery and preparedness, attracting private sector investment and garnering greater international support.”
During his visit, the Deputy Special Envoy – a US doctor who has worked for many years in Haiti to improve the country’s health services and speaks Creole – met with President René Préval, Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis, UN officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international donors and the private sector.
In addition, he visited the Central Plateau and Cap Haïtien, where he met with local communities and representatives of the tourism industry.
Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, with an annual estimated gross domestic product (GDP) of $390 per person. The country was battered by four back-to-back tropical storms in 2008 that killed nearly 800 people and affected an estimated 1 million people.
“I want to reassure the Haitian people that I am aware of your frustration,” said Dr. Farmer. “You not only live on less than $2 a day, but it has been almost a year since the last hurricane season and many of you are yearning for a sense of normalcy – housing, jobs and a sense of security.
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