Haiti’s Minister for Haitians living abroad calls for the integration of the Diaspora in the reconstruction of Haiti hit by an earthquake Jan. 12 in a three-day visit where he met with the Haitian community in North America.
“There is a need to create the structures for the integration of the Haitian in the Diaspora to rebuild Haiti,” said Reverend Edwin Paraison Minister for Haitian Living Abroad, English for Ministere des Haitiens Vivant a L’etranger, MHAVE.
The minister has made the issue of the repatriation of the professionals in the Diaspora a focus; as an example he creates a strategic plan to advocate for establishing a fund that will promote job creation in Haiti.
“This visit has many objectives among them strengthening the relationship between Haitians living outside the country,” he said.
Some years ago the IDB had discovered that 84% of Haitians professionals are living in the Diaspora.
The Jan. 12 earthquake that struck Haiti killed close to 230,000 and left up to a million homeless and so far only 50 percent of the affected population has received tents or plastic sheeting to protect against the weather. Late last month, heavy rains in coastal regions killed 13 and prompted the evacuation of almost 3,500 people.
There are immediate pressures being felt by survivors of the quake. Women, as well as men, face particular risks of more unemployment and hunger in a country where few were able to work and eat.
Given those concerns, Reverend Paraison is vigilant and acts as advocates for unemployed Haitians in looking to encourage the Diaspora to invest their money in Haiti and create jobs.
Paraison’s plan of mobilizing human and financial resources in the Diaspora is a way of recognizing their prior contribution to Haiti and after the earthquake by sending money to their family – especially when after the earthquake the bank could not make any transactions.
About 1400 professionals including doctors, social workers, nurses came to the country to help those in needs after the earthquake.
According to official statistics about a million Haitians are living overseas, and about half of them are in the US. Newspapers often report that a million Haitians live in the neighboring Dominican Republic. Haiti receives between $1.5 and1.8 billion in remittances each year; some estimates are even larger – over a half of its national income.
“15 years after its creation, the Ministry has never mobilized the total resources of the diaspora. It is about time,” Paraison said.