Today is the fifth anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake which ravaged Haiti in 2010, killing over 200,000 people and leaving 1.5 million homeless. Since then much has been done towards healing and reconstruction. The EU has been at the forefront of international humanitarian reconstruction efforts, initially providing shelter, clean water, food and medical care . Over the last five years the humanitarian response has been complemented by an ambitious reconstruction programme, supporting the Haitian government's efforts to rehabilitate and develop the country's infrastructure, rebuild schools and hospitals, provide public housing and strengthen the administration.
This massive cooperation effort, matching the huge needs, has benefitted some five million people, one in every two Haitians. The EU also values the cooperation within the Group of Friends, whom, together with the UN have provided essential security and contributed the bulk of the emergency and development resources to Haiti.
But Haiti remains the poorest country of the Western Hemisphere, and one of the poorest in the world. Despite the efforts of government and the international community, many still remain homeless from the disaster. Haiti needs steady and effective government and constructive opposition, rising above partisan differences, to steer the nation towards sustainable development.
Haiti is now suffering another political crisis that could reverse the gains of recent years. President Martelly has taken the lead in proposals, reflecting the recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Commission, to avoid the constitutional crisis which will result from expiry of Senate mandates, and to promote much needed electoral law reform. Former Prime Minister Lamothe has also contributed constructively. An inclusive government and renewed Electoral Commission and Supreme Courts are on the table. It is time for parliament to show political responsibility and engage positively on these proposals.
I therefore expect all political actors in Haiti to assume their responsibility for stability and progress. Priority should also be given to legislative renewal through fair and open elections as soon as possible.
The EU remains a steadfast friend of the Haitian people and will continue to work with those who have the best interests of the country at heart. We hope that five years after this terrible catastrophe, Haiti can move forward in unity.