Clarke Urges U.S. to Increase Aid to Haiti
“Just a few months ago, several of my colleagues and I joined voices in urging the U.S. to do more for the resilient people of Haiti regarding the food crisis and the hunger crisis that was exposed to the world. Today I am amplifying my urgent call and request for emergency aid following a series of natural disasters that have further devastated the lives of the people of Haiti.
According to the Government of Haiti and the United Nations, it is estimated that the combined effects of four storms in less than thirty days have killed 328 people; left 37 people missing, displaced approximately 82,600 people to temporary shelters, destroyed over 3,300 houses, and damaged more than 11,800 houses. These storms have increased the public health risks for the women, men and children of Haiti and they need our help now.
Thus far, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has nearly doubled the amount of humanitarian assistance from $10 million announced on September 8, to $19.5 million. I commend those efforts, but we can and we must do more.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere: 80% of the population (7.2 million) is living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty (4.86 million). According the Congressional Research Service, Port Au Prince, the capitol of Haiti, is only 736 miles from Key West, and only 710 miles from Miami, FL. As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, I am keenly aware that the events that occur in Haiti can have a direct impact on our nation.
I have joined my colleagues to ask the Speaker of the House to provide an appropriation of at least $300 million in disaster assistance for Haiti in the supplemental appropriations bill or another legislative vehicle that will be passed before Congress adjourns. In addition, I have signed onto a letter to Secretary Rice requesting the United States to act expeditiously and effectively to assist our neighbor in their time of need.
I would also like to commend the Consulate General of the Republic of Haiti in New York for their work on this matter.
I am scheduled to physically be on the ground in Haiti this evening to survey the extent of the devastation first hand. We cannot allow this situation of poverty, disease, and vulnerability to the elements to continue unanswered. We must do what we can to aid our sisters and brothers in Haiti during their time of need.”
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