September 19, 2012
Reposted from nola
Mayor Mitch Landrieu traveled to Haiti for two days this week to announce a partnership with the Caribbean nation, struggling to rebuild nearly three years after a devastating earthquake killed more than 300,000 and left 1.6 million more homeless.
The Arab state of Qatar, which donated $100 million to the Gulf Coast states in the aftermath of Katrina to rebuild hospitals, schools and housing, has announced that it will pledge $20 million to the people of Haiti through the Qatar Haiti Fund.
“If anybody should understand the situation in Haiti, we should,” Landrieu wrote in a statement. “It’s a long journey back. We are still in the midst of a massive rebuilding effort, but we are intent on building back better than before. We want to help build capacity in Haiti, and we want to help them re-imagine what Haiti can be.”
Landrieu traveled to Port-au-Prince with Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff Judy Reese Morse, Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo and director of Strategic Partnerships Brooke Smith early Monday. They were scheduled to return late Tuesday. City spokesman Ryan Berni said the Qatar fund, not city taxpayers, paid for their travel.
Landrieu joined Haitian officials and former President Bill Clinton at the University of Notre Dame d’Haiti for the announcement.
Clinton, the United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti, and former President George W. Bush created the non-profit Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, which has raised more than $50 million to help the country rebuild. Pamela A. White, US Ambassador to the Republic of Haiti; Mohammed Abdullah Mutib Al-Rumaihi, Qatar Ambassador to the U.S. and Mexico; and Michaëlle Jean, UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti, were among the other dignitaries at the announcement.
Among the fund’s first programs will be naming a New Orleans task force to share lessons from post-Katrina rebuilding with the Haitian government, focusing on health care, housing and education, the group said.
Once assembled, the task force will advise the “Prime Minister’s Advisory Unit,” comprised of five Haitian experts who report to the country’s Prime Minister on the rebuilding efforts in tourism, international affairs, health, agriculture and urban development.
The Qatar Haitian Fund board of directors includes Michaëlle Jean; Haitian Senator William Jeanty; Norman Francis, President of Xavier University in New Orleans; and Wyclef Jean, Roving ambassador of Haiti.
Landrieu described the city’s century-long ties to the island nation, beginning during the slave revolts in the 1800s, when Haitian refugees fled to New Orleans.
“Since then, Haiti has influenced what you see, hear and taste in our city to this day. We are now bound by tragedy and loss as well,” Landrieu wrote. “As much as the Haitian people have given New Orleans over the past two centuries, New Orleanians now need to return the favor by sharing our knowledge from our own cataclysmic loss.”
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