Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bill Clinton gets tough as donors fail to honour $5bn Haiti pledge

Countries which pledged billions of dollars in aid to earthquake-ravaged Haiti but have yet to deliver the money told to pay up

Bill Clinton has promised to get tough with countries which pledged billions of dollars in aid to earthquake-ravaged Haiti but have yet to deliver the money they promised.

Six months after the disaster that killed 220,000 people and left more than 1.5 million homeless, only $506m of $5.3bn raised at an international donors' conference in March has been handed over, according to the United Nations Development Programme.

Only four countries – Australia, Brazil, Estonia and Norway – have so far given anything at all, the UN says. Two of the biggest promised contributions, $1.15bn and $1.32bn from the United States and Venezuela respectively, have been held up by delays in Congress and political red tape.

A frustrated Clinton, the UN's special envoy to Haiti, said he would pick up the phone to world leaders to try to get the funds flowing more quickly.

"I'm going to call all those governments ... I want to try to get them to give the money, and I'm trying to get the others to give me a schedule for when they'll release it," Clinton told CNN earlier this week. The American news broadcaster first brought the shortfall to light during a study of figures provided by the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission and a survey of donor nations.

He accepted that the aftermath of a lingering global recession had played some part in countries not yet delivering on their pledges. "I think that they're all having economic trouble, and they want to hold their money as long as possible," he added.

Glenn Smucker, an anthropologist who advises aid and development groups in Haiti, said: "President Clinton raises a legitimate concern. It's easy to make pledges and harder to find the money, and you can't take it for granted that all of the money will come through. But if you had all $5bn together in one place at the same time it would still be a tremendous challenge to spend it in an efficient and effective way." © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Mosi A. Ifatunji, Ph.D. Candidate
ASA Pre-Doctoral Fellow
University of Illinois at Chicago
Department of Sociology (MC 312)
1007 West Harrison Street
Chicago, Illinois 60607-7140
Call/Text: (312) 607-2825
Twitter: @ifatunji

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