President Clinton on Haiti: "Don't Tell Me They Can't Do This!"
- Clinton announces a partnership between the World Economic Forum, the Clinton Global Initiative and the UN to help Haiti
- At its 40th Annual Meeting, the World Economic Forum established a special booth to coordinate private sector investment in Haiti
- Clinton recognized the participation of the former Haitian Prime Minister Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis
- For all information about the Annual Meeting, visit www.weforum.org/annualmeeting
In a special session of the 40th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, William J. Clinton, Founder, William J. Clinton Foundation; President of the United States (1993-2001); and UN Special Envoy to Haiti made a robust call for immediate aid and sustained investment to assist Haiti as it struggles to build a new and prosperous nation out of the rubble of the devastating earthquake of 12 January. In partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative and the United Nations, the World Economic Forum will work to increase private sector involvement in Haiti for the long term. "We are reminded of the common humanity which we all share," said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.
Clinton acknowledged that Haiti faces enormous challenges. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere even before the quake, Haiti has suffered the loss of some 150,000 lives, with hundreds of thousands more left maimed, homeless and hungry. The country's needs are immediate. "I spent last weekend on toilets and trucks," said Clinton. "I need a hundred trucks yesterday." Food distribution centres, which now number just 15, need to be increased exponentially.
After UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon named him special envoy to Haiti last May, Clinton set about leveraging the economic might of the Haitian diaspora and drew investors from many sectors to help the Haitians implement their own growth plan, originally drafted by economist Paul Collier. The earthquake is an enormous setback to the progress of the Haitians. "This is horrible for Haiti. They are virtually in shock now," said Clinton. "But I still believe they have the same chance to escape their past and build a better tomorrow."
"I believe a country can rise from the ashes in a very short time," said Clinton, citing Rwanda's scorching growth, and Indonesia's recovery after the tsunami. "Don't tell me they can't do this! This is an opportunity for the Haitian people to build a country that they want to become."
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