December 12, 2010 / 8:45 PM / 7 years ago

Palin urges Americans "not to forget Haiti"

* Trip could help boost Palin’s foreign policy credentials

* Cites need for jobs, especially for Haiti’s young people

* Appeals for more foreign aid and medical assistance

By Allyn Gaestel

TITANYAN, Haiti, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on Sunday urged her fellow Americans not to forget Haiti as she wrapped up a two-day visit to the crisis-torn Caribbean country.

“I do urge Americans not to forget Haiti,” said Palin, who was in Haiti at the invitation of Franklin Graham, an evangelical preacher whose Christian relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, is involved in cholera treatment efforts in the deeply impoverished nation.

Haiti is still recovering from the Jan. 12 quake that killed nearly a quarter of a million Haitians a year ago, and the 1.3 million people made homeless by the disaster are still living in makeshift camps and under tents and tarps in the sprawling capital Port-au-Prince.

“There were such ravaged conditions and environmental aspects of this country before the earthquake,” said Palin.

“Haiti has been a country that has suffered in the past, that’s going to continue to suffer until some fundamental changes are being made here,” she added.

The country has more recently been hit by a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 2,000 people and is wracked by political upheaval over a contested presidential election that has sparked violent street protests.

Palin, the former U.S. vice presidential candidate who is considering a presidential run in 2012, did not refer to the political chaos and charges of electoral fraud, which have led to calls for the administration of President Barack Obama to suspend aid to Haiti.

But on a trip that could help bolster her foreign policy credentials, Palin said “job opportunities especially for the young people of Haiti” were something the poorest country in the Americas needed perhaps more than anything else.

“God created man to work, to produce, to be able to contribute and to take care of one’s own family and one’s own community,” she said.

Palin spoke to reporters outside a Samaritan’s Purse warehouse in this town in barren hills about 7 miles (12 km) north of Port-au-Prince.

She declined to take any questions, saying, “We don’t need to be getting political today.”

She did appeal for foreign aid, however, after health experts last week called for intensive vaccination and more use of antibiotics to step up Haiti’s fight against cholera. (Editing by Tom Brown and Cynthia Osterman)

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