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Haiti hopeful over meeting of donors

Children are dying of malnutrition, public hospitals are plagued with management problems, strikes and staff and medicine shortages, and three million people are in danger of dying of hunger amid low emergency food aid.

These are just some of the stark realities of a cash-strapped and hurricane-ravaged Haiti, which on Tuesday becomes the focus of a one-day conference among its donors.

Millions of dollars in the hole, the Caribbean nation is seeking $125 million to plug a budget shortfall and $2 billion toward a three-year poverty-reduction plan.

"The plan," Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis told Haitians last week in a national radio address, "doesn't cover all of the country's needs. But it opens the door for the country to move forward."

The plan includes new roads and schools, renovations of existing hospitals and revitalization of the country's agriculture, which suffered millions of dollars in losses following last summer's back-to-back hurricanes and tropical storms. The storms came in the midst of a nearly five-month political crisis, triggered by the firing of the former prime minister after rising fuel and food prices on the world market sparked deadly food riots.

In hopes of having donors give, despite the global economic slump and Haiti donor fatigue, the country has promised a new paradigm of cooperation.

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