PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Feb. 4 (UPI) — Haiti’s external debt should be canceled to allow the country to recover from the devastating earthquake last month, a U.N. human rights expert said Thursday.
Haiti’s external debt is roughly $890 million, with 70 percent owed to multilateral creditors, chiefly the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, the United Nations said in a release.
The 7-magnitude earthquake Jan. 12 leveled the country’s capital and affected about a third of Haiti’s 9 million citizens, the U.N. said.
“Haiti’s remaining multilateral debt must be unconditionally canceled as a matter of extreme urgency in order to afford the country the necessary fiscal space as it recovers from the recent devastating earthquake and moves towards reconstruction,” said Cephas Lumina, the U.N. independent expert on foreign debt and human rights.
Lumina also urged that aid to be provided in the form of unconditional grants and a moratorium on debt service.
He said he welcomed the decision of a group of 19 creditor countries to cancel the $214 million debt owed by Haiti, but warned more action was necessary.
“The decision is insufficient to assure the country’s sustainable recovery effort, given that the bulk of its external debt is owed to multilateral creditors,” he said.