Above: Haiti President Michel Martelly addresses the European Parliament in November (Photo: EU)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
As the three-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti draws nearer, the European Union said it was reaffirming its long-term commitment to the Caribbean country.
The European Commission said Europe’s focus since the quake had been disaster risk reduction and resiliency, with EU humanitarian aid reportedly benefiting five million Haitians in the last three years.
“Today, as we take stock of our actions since the disaster, we are also reaffirming our long-term commitment to the Haitian people, whose recovery and sustainable development remain our priority,” European Commissioners Catherine Ashton, Kristalina Georgieva and Andris Piebalgs said in a statement.
The EU has also provided more than 500,000 people with housing, along with support for cholera, the commissioners said.
According to EU data, 85 percent of about $681.7 million in funds promised by the European Commission in 2010 have been committed, with additional funding having been made available.
“Of course, there is still a long way to go,” the commissioners said. “Recent events like tropical storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy make the recovery of Haiti even more difficult and highlight yet again the need to increase Haitians’ resilience to natural disasters.”
The EU also said that despite the progress made, political instability has hampered coordination efforts and implementation of development programmes.
“In that regard, we commend the government’s recent decision to accelerate the reforms aimed at improving the planning and coordination of aid, as their full ownership of the development process is a key condition to success in Haiti,” they said.
“Three years on from the dreadful tragedy that struck in 2010, we are more determined than ever to demonstrate our commitment to Haiti,” the three said. “Helping it recover and build itself back better is the best way to show solidarity with the long-suffering people of this country and to honour the victims of the disaster.”