President Obama meets with President Rene Preval
In a press conference at the White House today, U.S. President Barack Obama and Haiti’s president, Rene Preval, thanked the volunteers, troops and donors who responded to the January 12 earthquake. But, more needs to be done, said Obama, to prevent a second disaster in the form of spring rains that threaten Haiti’s 1.3 million homeless.
The president said that there was a “desperate need” for humanitarian aid in Haiti, describing the quake which killed more than 220,000 people as “one of the most devastating natural disasters ever to strike our hemisphere.”
Preval asked for additional help, including designation of a single authority to administer donor funds to be gathered by the United Nations. Preval also asked Obama to endorse creation of an international rapid response team, a “red helmet” brigade to provide a coordinated response to disasters.
“We must draw the lessons from what occurred in Haiti,” Preval said in the White House Rose Garden. “The massive, spontaneous, generous help was a good response to the disaster. However, its effectiveness must be improved, because effectiveness depends on the quality of co-ordination.”