IMF chief calls for new 'Marshall Plan' for Haiti

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The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday called for a multilateral aid plan to rebuild the earthquake-devastated Haiti like the US "Marshall Plan" that helped rebuild Europe after World War II.

"My belief is that Haiti -- which has been incredibly hit by different things: the food and fuel prices crisis, then the hurricane, then the earthquake -- needs something that is big," said Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the Washington- based IMF.

"Not only a piecemeal approach, but something which is much bigger to deal with the reconstruction of the country -- some kind of a Marshall Plan that we need now to implement for Haiti," he said in a statement.

Haitian officials say the quake has killed up to 200,000 people, injured some 250,000 and made 1.5 million homeless.

The massive magnitude-7.3 earthquake reduced the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince largely to rubble on January 12.

"The urgency, today, is to save the people. The urgency, in some weeks, will be the reconstruction," Strauss-Kahn said.

The IMF last Thursday promised an interest-free loan of 100 million U.S. dollars in initial emergency funds to the Haitian government to support essential activities and finance urgent imports.

"The most important thing is that the IMF is now working with all donors to try to delete all the Haitian debt, including our new loan," Strauss-Kahn said.

The IMF and the World Bank classify Haiti among "heavily indebted poor countries" that are eligible for debt forgiveness. Haiti was granted 1.2 billion dollars in debt relief last June.

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