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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Clinton hails Haitian post-quake reconstruction
by Staff Writers
Caracol, Haiti (AFP) Oct 22, 2012


Fast Asian growth brings extra disaster risks: UN
Yogyakarta, Indonesia (AFP) Oct 23, 2012 - Asia's fast economic growth has increased the region's vulnerability to natural disasters, with new developments springing up in catastrophe-prone areas, the UN warned on Tuesday.

Asia-Pacific countries suffered "staggering" losses of $294 billion from natural disasters last year, with the Thai floods and Japan's quake-tsunami major contributors to the huge bill, the United Nations report said.

GDP per capita in the region has increased 13-fold since 1980 but disaster losses have risen 16-fold, it said.

"The region has been slow to be concerned by how the growth of disaster risks has been spurred by rapid economic growth," said the report from the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

The UN noted a "pattern of recent growth where most new development in the region has been along coastlines and in floodplains, locations highly exposed to natural hazards".

The report, released on Tuesday at the start of a regional conference on reducing disaster risks being held in Yogyakarta, central Java, urged countries in the region to spend more to avert future catastrophes.

"The region has yet to commit adequate resources to reduce disaster risks and protect the development gains made possible by sustained growth," it said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday hailed Haitian reconstruction since the massive 2010 earthquake, drawing parallels between the "American dream" and the "Haitian dream."

Clinton was speaking at the formal opening of an industrial zone meant to help boost economic development and create 37,000 jobs in the impoverished country still reeling from the quake, which killed at least 250,000 people.

"In the United States, we pride ourselves on the promise of the American dream. And we have seen many Haitian Americans achieve that American dream," Clinton said. "Now, Haitians here in Haiti have the very same drive."

The top US diplomat was accompanied by her husband and former US president Bill, whose charitable Clinton Foundation is very active in Haiti.

Others attending the event included Haitian President Michel Martelly, his predecessor Rene Preval, British tycoon Richard Branson and actors Ben Stiller and Sean Penn.

In her remarks, Clinton underscored that while the creation of new jobs was critically important, other sectors were in dire need of development.

"In addition to effective government, Haiti needs a strong justice sector, free and fair elections, housing, energy, schools, health care -- all of which will serve the people of Haiti, but also attract even more investment," she said.

Clinton also urged Haiti to build upon progress achieved with US support, while pledging that the partnership between the two countries would continue once she leaves office.

"Now it is up to the people and leaders of Haiti to sustain and build on this progress. After all, it always comes down to what people will do for themselves," she said.

"But I think we're off to a very good start together, and the United States is committed to the work we are doing here. We believe in Haiti's promise and the dream that every Haitian should be able to feel."

Martelly said his Caribbean country was "irreversibly open for business" and that for his country, which is heavily dependent on international aid, the time was ripe for "sustainable investment."

Less than 18 months after taking office, the Haitian leader is facing a wave of opposition focused on the rising cost of living and corruption.

State Department officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, appeared to downplay the anti-Martelly movement.

One official described Martelly as a popular president who, like all others in his position, has to work hard to maintain the trust of his people.

Working with the parliament "has proven to be a challenge" for Martelly, the official said -- "a challenge for both parties to be the kind of partner that they can be to each other."

"And so I don't know that this government has different challenges than many governments and certainly not different challenges than governments here in Haiti have had."

Another US official suggested some of the anti-Martelly protests had been bankrolled by opposition parties and "aren't all that spontaneous."

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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Haiti leader under fire for rising prices, corruption
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Oct 22, 2012
Less than 18 months after taking office on a wave of populist support, Haitian President Michel Martelly is now facing protests in a country still trying to rebound from the massive 2010 earthquake. For three weeks, protesters have marched regularly in Haiti's biggest towns, furious over what they see as the government's inaction in the face of the rising cost of living in what is already on ... read more


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