WASHINGTON, D.C., USA: CARICOM’s Special Representative on Haiti, P.J. Patterson, has appealed for assistance from the Organization of American States (OAS) to prevent any escalation in the consequences of the January 12 earthquake that devastated Haiti.
Last week, Patterson challenged the OAS to work with the rest of the international community to take urgent action when he addressed a special session of the organization’s Council in Washington, D.C. on the role of CARICOM and its efforts towards the reconstruction of Haiti.
Patterson lamented that many Haitians remained without shelter and were suffering from trauma. Throughout his address, Patterson stressed that CARICOM regarded the rebuilding of Haiti as a priority for the entire region.
He affirmed that, as a Community, the 15-member grouping was obligated to be at the forefront of international advocacy and mobilizing regional support for Haiti, not simply as a matter of historical sentiment or understandable concern.
“CARICOM believes that a vibrant Community needs a strong Haiti to assume its rightful place,” Patterson told the OAS Council. “Instability of any kind in Haiti will result in instability within our region.”
Patterson said CARICOM is on course to establishing credible and sustained support which extends beyond the region’s several governments to embrace professionals, business people and special interest groups who can ensure that the best skills, knowledge and experience of the region are available to the government and people of Haiti.
“We intend to do so in a manner that allows the periodic replenishment of these human assets so that CARICOM remains engaged during the phases of recovery and reconstruction,” he said.
Patterson also reminded the Council that national elections are due in Haiti soon, and it was expected that the OAS would continue its monitoring of the debate surrounding the conduct of the elections and give priority to the preparation of a voters list that accurately reflects the shifts in population that have occurred since the January 15 earthquake.
He said that CARICOM would also support the process, as it had done in the past, by providing experienced professionals and through the training of Haitian personnel.