Haiti fund-raiser beats target
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The international donor meeting for earthquake-hit Haiti raised pledges of 9.9 billion dollars (7.3 billion euros), with promises for 2010-2011 exceeding the target set by conference organisers. US and Cuban officials met on the sidelines to discuss cooperation in relief efforts.
Wednesday's pledges included 5.3 billion dollars (3.9 billion euros) for 2010-2011, way over the 3.8-billion-dollar (2.8-billion-euro) target which is meant to fund a four-billion-dollar (2.9-billion-euro) plan drawn up by the Haitian government for reconstruction over the next two years.
"Friends of Haiti have acted far beyond expectations," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced after the meeting organised to help Haiti recover from January's devastating earthquake.
Wednesdays' biggest contributions came from the United States, which offered 1.15 billion dollars (850 million euros), and the European Union, which offered 1.6 billion dollars (1.2 million euros). EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton declared that the sum brought the bloc's public and private contributions to "close to three billion dollars" (2.2 billion euros).
Ian Bray, Oxfam
Ian Bray of the British-based NGO, Oxfam, says he was surprised by the impressively generous pledge in New York, but stressed this amount must yield concrete results.
" Too many times at conferences there's a great deal of generosity of pledges," he says, "but they do not necessarily turn into tangible benefits on the ground."
He says a lot of aid has already reached those most in need including medical care, water and sanitation.
" Millions of people have also received food by now and 75 per cent of people who required emergency shelter have received it," he adds. "They still need more shelter from the rains as they are due at any moment. April is the beginning of the first part of the rainy season."
In a new step in warming relations, US and Cuban diplomats met on the sidelines of the meeting, according to Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parilla.
His discussion with Cheryl Mills, chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "focused on rebuilding [Haiti's] health system", he said. Further cooperation is expected "on the ground".
The US broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 but last year lifted travel and money restrictions for Cuban-Americans with relatives on the island.
UN officials in Port-au-Prince now say that they intend to move only the 9,000 people most at risk from expected rains.
Earlier they had said that 218,000 people living around the capital would have to move.
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