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When we talk of rebuilding Haiti, we must consult the Haitian people
March 21, 2010

(SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic) March 21, 2010 – On the occasion of the conclusion of major donor conference for Haiti, held in Santo Domingo with another soon to be held in New York, the Jesuit Refugee and Migration Service of Dominican Republic and Haiti (JRMS) urged the international community to implement measures to ensure the integration and participation of the Haitian people in the rebuilding their country.

For JRMS it is clear that the Haitian people should always be considered by states and international organizations as subjects essential to the formulation and implementation of proposals for the reconstruction of their country.

In view of the significance of such meetings designed to promote international cooperation in the reconstruction process in Haiti, States, Agencies of the United Nations system and International Financial Institutions should bear in mind that solidarity to Haiti, even in the midst of apparent structural weaknesses and the present emergency situation, should be guided by the principles of respect for sovereignty, self-determination and dignity of peoples. Haiti should not be subjected to any actions that violate these principles. We must avoid sustaining mistakes of the past that spring from centralization and interventionism, since it was these very factors that contributed to the structural crisis of the Haitian State before the earthquake of January 12.

Haitian civil society especially must be an active participant in all reconstruction efforts. Haitian civil society partners were the first responders in the midst of tragedy, taking the first steps in organizing camps for the displaced, rescuing people from under rubble and burying the dead, although they lacked proper tools for the job.

JRMS urges the international donors to deploy all necessary efforts to follow-through on recommendations Haitian civil society raised before the earthquake to implement a national strategic development plan that prioritizes food security, decentralization, social investment, and mechanisms of joint action between government, civil society, international agencies, and other strategic players in national life in Haiti.

This is the time not only for rebuilding the infrastructure, but also to promote the subsistence and strength of the social fabric and the construction of a new institutional framework for the reform of power structures, with an orientation toward decentralization within the framework of transparency.

Reconstruction requires a 'whole of island' vision

In view of the fact that Haiti and Dominican Republic share an island, subject to multiple natural disasters that know no borders, it is important that this process of reconstruction is taken from a whole of island view, both on the part of Haitian State, the Dominican State, and by other key actors, including civil society organizations of both countries in order to promote the resumption of the recovery process and bi-national cooperation mechanisms such as the Joint Bilateral Commission.

The reconstruction of Haiti is a great opportunity to establish new bilateral relations that promote genuine human development, guarantees respect for human rights, protects the environment, establishes fair-trade relationships and strengthens intercultural relationships between populations.

Finally, we note that to this moment the Dominican people and the Dominican government have demonstrated unequivocal solidarity with the Haitian people. We pray this attitude will continue and will be solidified into permanent and reciprocal policy initiatives.

In light of all of the above, the JRMS respectively requests that the donor summits endeavor to take into account the proposals generated by Haitian and Dominican civil society organizations.

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA stands in solidarity with the people of Haiti

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is a member of the InterAction NGO community, which stands in solidarity with the people of Haiti as the country prepares to build a new nation driven by a vision of a society that provides for all its citizens; that ensures education for all children; that enables women and youth to actively participate in shaping development; that mobilizes the entrepreneurial skills of the Haitian people to build back the economy; and that recognizes the role of the rural poor in regenerating Haiti’s fragile environment and in leading the country toward food self-sufficiency.

In partnership with our civil society Haitian counterparts, we want to ensure that the National Recovery and Development Action Plan for Haiti (NRDAP) serves as a strategic bridge between early recovery, reconstruction, and long-term development. An effective framework provides opportunities to establish a common, coherent, and coordinated platform for long-term development in Haiti. Such a framework would align NGO activities with the priorities of the Haitian government; ensure the government’s support, engagement, and coordination with civil society; result in equitable and effcient community-level assistance; and prevent duplication with other actors. The framework would also facilitate the identification of gaps in the response that need urgent attention.

To this end, we have articulated the following principles for shaping a framework for recovery and recommendations not only to rebuild but also to revitalize Haiti.

Click here to read From the Ground Up, InterAction Member Recommendations on Recovery and Rebuilding in Haiti.

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Mr Christian Fuchs
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