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Preval Urges International Aid for Haiti


Haiti's President-elect Rene Preval has again urged the international community to provide financial assistance to help his poverty-stricken country develop economically.

The incoming president made his remarks Wednesday in a speech to the Organization of American States' Permanent Council in Washington. Mr. Preval also called for Western Hemisphere nations to invest in Haiti. The president-elect said he recognizes that the task of rebuilding Haiti is huge, but that he is ready for the challenge.

The president-elect called on all sectors of Haitian society to work with the government to improve the standard of living for people in the hemisphere's poorest country. Mr. Preval said Haiti has no enemies except underschooling, unemployment, malnutrition, and lack of health care, housing and drinking water.

Mr. Preval delivered his address one day after he made similar comments in an interview with VOA Creole Service. He said he plans to involve politicians, businessmen, students and others in long-term plans for Haiti.

Mr. Preval said in an editorial in The Miami Herald Wednesday that 50 percent of the Haitian population lives below the poverty line and that the infant mortality rate is 61 per 1,000. He said unemployment affects more than 20 percent of Haiti's labor force.

But Mr. Preval wrote that although ravaged, Haiti is not the wretched land often portrayed in the media, but a land of hope for more than eight million people.

Mr. Preval was elected last month and is due to take office in early May.

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