September 9, 2009 / 11:16 PM / in 8 years

U.N. envoy Bill Clinton chides donors over Haiti aid

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Haiti has kept its promise to build a government but donor nations have failed to deliver the aid they pledged to the poorest country in the western hemisphere, Bill Clinton said on Wednesday.

“They’ve only gotten a pittance of the aid that was pledged to them,” Clinton, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy to Haiti, told reporters after addressing a meeting of the Security Council on the Caribbean nation.

“A lot of that is part of the appropriations process that plays out in the latter half of every year,” the former U.S. president said. “But we can’t get to January with only $21 million of over $760 million in commitments disbursed down there (in Haiti).”

“We’ve got to get the show on the road,” Clinton added.

Clinton said Haiti has been delivering on promises to stabilize the country.

“They did what they were supposed to do,” he said. “They’ve got a functioning political system. The legislature’s working with the executive branch. They’ve got a good government there. ... They need the rest of us to do more.”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told the Security Council that ”real gains have been made to improve security in Haiti.

“But we are acutely aware of the potential threats, including transnational crime, gang violence and civil unrest,” she told the 15-nation council.

Clinton added that he hoped to boost private investment in Haiti. But the success of private investment projects, he said, will depend on donor nations living up to their aid commitments so Haitians can continue to improve their infrastructure.

Devastating hurricanes caused an estimated $1 billion of damage last year, while the global financial crisis brought a sharp reduction in remittances vital to many Haitian families.

Ban has also urged donor countries to be generous to Haiti. He has been influenced by a report by British academic Paul Collier which said that if Haiti could improve its roads and ports, it was well-placed to benefit from low labor costs and duty-free access it enjoys to the U.S. market.

U.N. officials say that security has improved dramatically in Haiti, where just a few years ago large areas were controlled by heavily armed gangs that killed, kidnapped and raped with impunity.

After decades of dictatorship and military coups, Haiti’s civilian police force was created just 15 years ago, when its army was disbanded. The U.N. peacekeeping mission known as MINUSTAH, made up of 7,000 soldiers and 2,000 police, has worked to help stabilize Haiti since its last revolt in 2004.

Editing by Philip Barbara

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