WASHINGTON, March 10 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday reassured his Haitian counterpart that the United States will continue to provide Haiti with assistance in terms of both short-term disaster relief and long-term recovery and reconstruction.
"The situation on the ground remains dire, and people should be under no illusions that the crisis is over," Obama said after talks with Haitian President Rene Preval at the White House.
"Many Haitians are still in need, desperate need in some cases, of shelter and food and medicine. And with the spring rains approaching, those needs will only grow. The challenge now is to prevent a second disaster," he added.
Around three million Haitians have been directly affected by the quake, becoming homeless and unable to make a living as the quake disrupted economic activities and triggered social unrest, some two million people need immediate humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations statistics.
"That's why, even as the U.S. military responsibly hands off relief functions to our Haitian and international partners, America's commitment to Haiti's recovery and reconstruction must endure and will endure," said Obama.
Preval expressed appreciation at the joint appearance, not only for the material aid, but also for the moral support the U.S. has provided.
He also listed two priorities the Haitian government currently braces. First is to protect those who today are homeless and who must be relocated, along with preparing for the rainy season.
"And at the same time, much more basically, we must deal with the need of rebuilding Haiti," said Preval, saying that those efforts include "offering health care, education, jobs to all Haitians, men and women, regardless of where they live in the country, in order to prevent migratory flows towards the big cities."