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We need 10 years to rebuild our country PM says

HAITI needs at least five to 10 years of reconstruction help after its people were "bloodied, martyred and ruined" by the devastating earthquake, the country's Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said yesterday.

"The people of Haiti will need more and more and more in order to complete the reconstruction," Bellerive told an international aid conference.

"I bring you the thanks of a people who have been bloodied, martyred and ruined but who are standing," he told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and representatives of 10 other countries.

The conference heard of immediate needs but also began to look beyond to a strategy to rebuild from the January 12 earthquake that killed up to 200,000 people. A key theme that emerged was the importance of ensuring development and population was not so concentrated in Port-au-Prince, which sits right on a fault line.

"In 30 seconds, Haiti lost 60pc of its GDP (gross

domestic product)," Mr Bellerive said, referring to excessive centralisation in the capital. "So we must decentralise."

Oxfam called on the meeting to cancel Haiti's foreign debt, which it said amounted to $890m (€620m). Mr Bellerive said this was not his main concern, although it would free up resources.

"In the face of the real demands we have, our debt is minimal. What we're looking for is a long-term commitment.... At least five to 10 years."

Irish Independent