WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Wednesday conditions in quake-stricken Haiti remained dire and promised that the United States would be a reliable partner in reconstruction efforts.
Obama, speaking at the White House after meeting with Haitian President Rene Preval, said only a global response to the country’s crisis could help it recover.
“The situation on the ground remains dire and people should be under no illusions that the crisis is over,” Obama said with Preval standing at his side.
Obama said many Haitians were still in desperate need of shelter, food, and medicine — a situation that would only grow worse with the onset of spring rains.
“The challenge now is to prevent a second disaster, and that’s why at this very moment, thousands of Americans, both civilian and military, remain on the scene at the invitation of the Haitian government,” he said.
Obama did not offer any figures for future U.S. financial support to Haiti. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday the United States had already put some $700 million into Haitian reconstruction efforts.
Preval praised the swiftness and size of the international response to the disaster and expressed gratitude to Obama for making the U.S. rescue and relief effort a priority.
Reporting by Jeff Mason, Editing by Sandra Maler