Haitian president meets UN representatives in Panama

PANAMA – Haiti’s President Martelly met with top UN officials at UNOPS offices in Panama City earlier this month to discuss his country’s ongoing development needs.

Regional representatives from 12 United Nations organizations met with the Haitian President and his Foreign Affairs Minister to discuss Haiti’s development priorities and harmonize recovery and reconstruction efforts following the 2010 earthquake.

The meeting was held in the headquarters for the UNOPS Latin American and Caribbean regional office.

President Michel Martelly thanked the United Nations for its continued support to Haiti and called for increased coordination between UN agencies and the Government to continue improving lives.

"Thank you for being in Haiti and helping us well before the earthquake, although your help has been even more important after the earthquake. Gradually we are rebuilding but there is still a lot to do," he said.

Mr Martelly emphasized that reconstructing damaged houses and resettling camps are among his top priorities, alongside education, gender equality, poverty reduction and reforestation.

Maria Noel Vaeza, UNOPS Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, expressed UNOPS continued commitment to Haiti’s reconstruction, particularly through the dismantling of the Champ de Mars camps and the multi-agency 16/6 project. Under this project UNOPS will repair and build thousands of houses and community infrastructure for earthquake-affected families in Port-au-Prince. "Our work is primarily focusing on strengthening key Government institutions as well as specific reconstruction and mitigation works, while generating incomes for disadvantaged families," she added.

President Martelly also thanked UNOPS directly for its project implementation work. "We are aware of the relevant work UNOPS is doing in Haiti and your continued support to strengthen our national capacity and institutions such as the Ministry of Public Works. That is what Haiti needs."

Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Lamothe also stressed the need for empowering Haiti’s public institutions and developing local capacity. "A lot remains to be done, especially regarding the people of Haiti and the training of our resources. Fifteen percent of the population is unemployed. We must encourage the brains of Haiti to stay and work in Haiti. Without resources and without bright minds at work it is difficult to progress."

A range of United Nations representatives highlighted the sectors they are currently working in and their plans for the future in Haiti. Alongside Ms Vaeza, there were representatives from the World Food Programme, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, UN Women, the United Nations Children's Fund, the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the United Nations Population Fund, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Development Group for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama who hosted Haiti’s official visit to the country.