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US warns of Haiti murder, kidnap threat

Technical conference begins on Haiti reconstruction
Santo Domingo (AFP) March 15, 2010 - A conference on Haiti's reconstruction from a devastating earthquake began laying the groundwork Monday for a donors' summit in New York that could seek 14 billion dollars in long-term aid. The three-day preparatory meeting in the Dominican Republic aims to assess the economic damage Haiti sustained in the January 12 earthquake and identify clear goals for the devastated Caribbean nation going forward. Talks start with a working dinner with the technical delegates of the invited countries, representatives of the multilateral organizations and damage evaluation experts, the Dominican interior ministry said.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and Dominican President Leonel Fernandez will address the meeting -- including delegations from Argentina, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Japan, Spain and the United States -- on Wednesday. Representatives from the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Union, the Organization of American States, the United Nations and the Association of Caribbean States will also be present. The focus will be on emergency reconstruction, providing shelter for an estimated 1.3 million made homeless by the quake, financial aid, and a framework for developing Haiti's agriculture industry.

Conclusions will provide the basis for wider discussions at an international donors conference in New York on March 31 being hosted by the United States and the United Nations. Haiti will present an outline in New York of its long-term needs as it tries to rebuild from the January 12 earthquake which killed more than 220,000 people and leveled parts of the capital Port-au-Prince and nearby towns. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said last month that rebuilding Haiti could cost 14 billion dollars, making the quake the most destructive natural disaster in modern history.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) March 15, 2010
Four American nationals have been murdered in the Haitian capital since the January 12 quake, the United States said Monday, stepping up its travel warning after a high-profile kidnapping.

Updating its advice to travelers after it emerged last week that kidnappers had abducted and later freed two European aid workers, the State Department added a special section on crime-related threats.

"US citizens traveling to and residing in Haiti despite this warning are reminded that there remains a persistent danger of violent crime, including homicides and kidnappings," it said.

"Most kidnappings are criminal in nature, and the kidnappers make no distinctions of nationality, race, gender, or age. Some kidnap victims have been killed, shot, sexually assaulted, or physically abused."

The State Department provided no further information about the four American citizens it said had been murdered in Port-au-Prince since the quake and it was not immediately clear if they were Haitian Americans or not.

The abduction of the two Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) workers was the first kidnapping of foreign aid staff since the quake, which killed more than 220,000 people and left 1.3 million people homeless.

The United States ordered the departure of all non-emergency US government personnel in the immediate aftermath of the quake, but there are fears that crime could soar as the post-quake despondency grows.

Haitian police and foreign security contractors have spoken of the danger posed by thousands of hardened criminals who escaped the main prison in the capital during the earthquake.

Most of them are believed to be hiding out in Cite Soleil, a city slum devastated by the 7.0-magnitude quake where police and UN peacekeepers struggle to impose the law.

The State Department said the Haitian police force had improved since the arrival of thousands of United Nations peacekeepers in the troubled Caribbean nation in 2006 but warned that travel in the capital remained "hazardous."

US embassy personnel are under an embassy-imposed curfew and some areas of the capital, including downtown Port-au-Prince, are off limits for them after dark.

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Chile reconstruction to cost 30 billion dollars: president
Santiago (AFP) March 12, 2010
Newly installed Chilean President Sebastian Pinera estimated Friday it would cost 30 billion dollars to rebuild the nation after last month's devastating quake. A day after being sworn in as the South American country's new leader, Pinera told foreign reporters he would "reassign some resources from the national budget" to help bear the costs of reconstruction. He would also call for hel ... read more

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