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Visit strengthens Australia's friendship with Haiti

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THE HON RICHARD MARLES MP Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs

Visit strengthens Australia’s friendship with Haiti

Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Richard Marles met with Foreign Minister Pierre-Richard Casimir today in the first visit to Haiti by a member of an Australian Government.

Mr Marles said the visit underscored Australia’s strengthening relationship with Haiti, and engagement with CARICOM member nations.

"Australia’s relationship with Haiti has grown in recent years, as we have worked together on concerns and issues affecting small island developing states,” said Mr Marles.

“Australia is delivering on its commitment to provide $60 million in development assistance to the Caribbean region under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CARICOM signed in 2009. This has been the foundation for Australia to work with Haiti and Caribbean partners to help reduce the effects of climate change, better prepare for disasters and build economic resilience.”

The Australian Aid Program to the Caribbean is also helping increase Haiti’s human resource capability by providing scholarships, fellowships and diplomatic training.

Mr Marles conveyed the condolences of the Australian Government and people to Foreign Minister Casimir for the lives lost and disruption caused by Tropical Storm Isaac.

The visit also provided an opportunity to learn about, and observe the progress being made in Haiti’s efforts to recover from the devastation caused by the earthquake in 2010.

“In the aftermath of the earthquake, Australia delivered $26 million in assistance to Haiti supporting disaster response, reconstruction and recovery activities as well as programs to respond to cholera outbreaks.”

The Australian public also raised an additional $26 million provided to NGOs to assist their work in Haiti.

“This demonstrates the warmth of friendship from Australians to Haitians during their time of crisis.”

Mr Marles said Australia had in recent years established a strong development cooperation partnership with CARICOM and looked forward to continuing the relationship.

7 September 2012

Media contact: Pauline Braniff (0466 745 623)