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International Donors Pledge $750 Million for Haiti

International donors met late Tuesday in Haiti and pledged $750 million to fund vital projects and repairs to infrastructure in the impoverished Caribbean country.

The conference included representatives from the United States, the World Bank, the European Union and the Inter-American Development Bank.

The development bank's representative in Haiti, Anna Cecilia McInnis, talked to VOA from Port-au-Prince about the conference. She says the conference was a success, but not only in terms of pledges.

"It is very important, not only for the amount because the amount alone [funds] more projects," she said. "But I think the amount is not the objective. The objective of this is to have the possibility to have more investment projects, and this means [to] help Haiti to improve its development and the quality of life of its population."

She says the money is to fund projects for roads, education, health, and water and sanitation. She says she is very hopeful about the future of Haiti.

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon said after the conference that the United States has indicated it will pledge $210 million during the next 12 months to meet the needs laid out in the development plan.

Haiti has been plagued with problems, including insecurity and staggering unemployment and poverty. A revolt toppled Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president in February 2004. Rene Preval was elected earlier this year.

Daniel Erikson of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington D.C. center for policy analysis, stressed that jobs need to be created to bring opportunities to the poor.

He says the country's relatively small size, proximity to the United States, and its willingness to cooperate with international donors represent a unique opportunity for the country.

"Clearly there was consensus, both on the international side as well as in Haiti, that there is a lot that needs to be done and a lot that needs to be done very quickly," he said. "So I think this has to been seen as a victory for the Haitian government. Certainly one of the key priorities they face right now is trying to show results in a very timely manner."

The United Nations, which has a peacekeeping force in Haiti, expressed pleasure that the donors conference was organized and held in Haiti, saying that it showed the desire of Haitian authorities to shape their country's destiny.

The Organization of American States has also reaffirmed its support for Haiti as the country takes steps to move forward.