Canada highlights $555 million in aid to Haiti

Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:28am EST
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By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Canadian Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier highlighted $555 million in aid to Haiti on Friday, as he wrapped up a three-day visit to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

The funds, to be paid between 2006-2011, were earmarked to help build roads, police precincts and implement social and economic programs in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, Bernier told reporters.

"Compared to other donor countries, our assistance to Haiti is one of the biggest per capita contributions," he said.

"We are proud to be able to help Haiti because we have in Quebec a Haitian community that has brought so much to Canada," said Bernier, adding that Canada will act according to aid priorities set by Haitian authorities.

Despite other pledges of foreign aid since President Rene Preval took office in May 2006, Haiti's government has faced growing complaints about a lack of effective action to deal with the high cost of living and widespread unemployment.

"The hunger is unbearable and no one really seems to care," said Marcfel Joseph, a father of three who has been jobless since 2004.

"The government seems more inclined to please International Monetary Fund obligations than taking necessary measures to turn the situation around," he said.

"The government has failed to act and has proved to lack creativity in dealing with the problem," said legislator Isidor Mercier.   Continued...