World Leaders Discuss Long Term Plans for Haiti

The United States and other allies of Haiti met in Montreal on Monday to discuss long-term plans to help the devastated country. Nineteen foreign ministers and organizations committed to a 10-year effort to reconstruct Port-au-Prince, and although they still don’t know the amount of damage the earthquake caused or how much money is needed to rebuild, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said another meeting will be held at the United Nations’ NYC headquarters in March to hash out a more detailed plan.

Haiti Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive had a tough time concentrating on future efforts and instead expressed deep concern for immediate action. He said it could take up to five years to restore the capital alone, but that the entire country has been affected by residents who’ve fled the city to find refuge in other provinces. A preliminary estimate of $1 billion might be needed just to rebuild the capital’s infrastructure, government offices, schools and hospitals.

Another factor bearing down on Haiti’s economy is its estimated $1 billion debt to foreign lenders and banks. Last summer, several lenders already forgave about $1.2 billion. The impoverished country still owes about $38 million to the World Bank and $441 million to the Inter-American Development Bank. The IDB is considering forgiving the rest of Haiti’s debt.