EU delegates meet with new Haiti president, boost aid

Port-au-Prince (AFP) - A European Union delegation in Haiti for Tuesday's inauguration of President Jovenel Moise announced it was increasing EU aid to the poverty-stricken island to boost growth and help it recover from devastating storm damage.

The additional 35 million euros ($37.4 million) is intended to help meet urgent humanitarian needs and provide relief to the hundreds of thousands of Haitians affected by the destructive passage in October of Hurricane Matthew.

Edita Hrda, a Czech diplomat with the EU's external action service, told journalists here that the aid package includes 16 million euros for humanitarian assistance and 19 million for development, primarily for budgetary support.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the European Commission, sent written congratulations to the new Haitian president and invited him to Brussels on an official visit.

Hrda said the EU wanted to strengthen its relations with the new administration to help Haiti with its economic, social and environmental development.

The EU delegation's talks here with the new Haitian president, she added, focused on "the rule of law, governance and human rights, as well as on the fight against corruption and on electoral reforms."

The European Union is one of Haiti's leading international lenders.

With the newly announced aid package, European assistance to Haiti will total 455 million euros for the 2014-2020 period.

Haiti is more than $2 billion in debt. Its growth is not expected to top an anemic one percent this year.

Moise, a 48-year-old banana exporter and political novice, was sworn in on Tuesday in an unusually austere ceremony, ending a prolonged political crisis. His original election in 2015 was annulled amid charges of massive fraud. He prevailed again in a rescheduled election last November.