Pledges for long-term Haiti aid put on hold at Montreal meeting | World| Breaking news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 26.01.2010
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Pledges for long-term Haiti aid put on hold at Montreal meeting

Montreal hosted a meeting on Monday to discuss international aid efforts for Haiti in the wake of this month's deadly earthquake. But concrete resolutions about long-term aid were put off until March.

A young girl throws up her arms in despair in front of a devastated building in Port-au-Prince

In devastated Haiti, acute problems take precedence, donor nations agreed

Foreign ministers and other international officials met in Montreal on Monday for emergency talks on Haiti in the aftermath of this month's earthquake, but failed to come to a substantive agreement on how to assist the devastated Caribbean nation in the long term.

The conference paved the way for a donors' meeting in March where monetary pledges are expected.

"I understand your impatience," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner declared loudly after being aggressively questions by journalists over a lack of concrete resolutions coming from the one-day conference.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, on his first trip abroad since the January 12 disaster, said that his country would need international development aid for "at least five to 10 years."

Brazilian UN peacekeepers unload bottles of water in Port-au-Prince

The focus for now will be on distributing emergency aid

But while representatives at the meeting said they would help with long-term efforts, they needed to wait before making any firm promises.

At least 112,000 Haitians have been confirmed dead after the earthquake on January 12. The actual death toll could run as high as 200,000.

Europe represented at talks

EU members France and Spain were represented at the talks as well as regional powers including Brazil, Canada and the United States. France's Kouchner stressed that emergency relief was the priority.

"You're asking how much money Europe will give. A lot," said Kouchner. "Work must be done. But we are still in a [state] of emergency."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed that it was too early for pledges of money. "We're trying to do this in the correct order," she said. "We are still in an emergency. There is a terrible humanitarian crisis that we are dealing with."

"More help will be needed"

Bellerive thanked the international community for the help that Haiti had received so far, but said that "more and more" would be needed. The leader told delegates that emergency aid was paramount, but added that a long-term vision would be crucial to the country's recovery.

Flags flying outside the UN building in New York

There will be a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York

Bellerive said that although there had been great disruption for his government, the administration was still functioning and preparing to "launch the country on its path to reconstruction."

The planned March donor conference is to be hosted by the US at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

New phase for relief effort

The relief operation has entered a new phase after the search for survivors was called off. Authorities are now trying to relocate 400,000 survivors living in camps across the capital Port-au-Prince. The country made an appeal for 200,000 more tents on Monday.

At a meeting in Brussels, also on Monday, European nations agreed to send a mission of about 300 police officers to the country to help with aid distribution.

Germany is making a direct contribution to the relief effort of 15 million euros ($21 million), having also contributed 66 million euros to an EU aid package.

rc/dpa/AFP/Reuters
Editor: Kyle James

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