Conference Looks to Future of Haiti Reconstruction

BY Talea Miller  January 25, 2010 at 2:41 PM EST

Haiti’s Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive sought international commitments to aid his country in recovery from this month’s devastating earthquake, saying it would take at least 5 to 10 years of reconstruction efforts.

“Haiti will need massive support in the medium and long term from its partners in the international community,” he told an international aid conference in Montreal. “The challenge will require that we do more, that we do better and certainly that we do differently.”

A senior government official told the New York Times that Haiti will ask for $3 billion to rebuild the city of Port-au-Prince, near the epicenter of the quake that left 200,000 people homeless.

Attendees to the conference included U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Canada’s prime minister, foreign ministers from more than a dozen countries, eight international organizations and six major NGOs, reported the Associated Press.

Senior NewsHour correspondent Ray Suarez spoke with one of the attendees, Dr. Paul Farmer, the United Nations deputy special envoy to Haiti, in Port-au-Prince just before his departure for the meeting.

Farmer, also a physician who founded the non-profit Partners in Health, which has worked in Haiti for 25 years, told the NewsHour his message at the meeting will be that “transient interest in this problem is not only unhelpful, but very destructive.”

“We are talking in Montreal about a ten-year plan. I think the acute relief efforts will go on; one hopes they’ll be improved but that’s not what we’re talking about today,” said Farmer. “We’re talking about linking relief efforts to recovery and that’s going to be years of effort.”

Watch Ray Suarez’s full interview with Farmer below and watch the PBS NewsHour tonight for more coverage from Haiti.