July 12, 2010

Chairman Kerry: Haiti Six Months Later

WASHINGTON, D.C. On the sixth month anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) issued the following statement:

“As we pause today to remember the lives lost and communities devastated as a result of the terrible earthquake in Haiti, we must also assess what we have done for the recovery process and how we can do better. Frankly, the results are mixed. Although the initial rescue effort was commendable for its quick response, the reconstruction process has been considerably slower and too many critical priorities remain unaddressed. Rebuilding Haiti requires not just resources, but decisive action, vision, and leadership from the United States, the international community, and the Haitian government. The window of opportunity is rapidly narrowing for an effective, coordinated international and Haitian effort that can make a real difference. We will all be responsible if progress grinds to a halt. I urge my colleagues in Congress to do their part by swiftly passing the Haiti Empowerment, Assistance and Rebuilding Act, as well as the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill.”

In May, the Committee passed the Kerry-Corker Haiti Empowerment, Assistance and Rebuilding Act (HEAR) of 2010, S. 3317, which authorizes $2 billion over 2 years to support the rebuilding and reconstruction of Haiti in partnership with the government and people of Haiti.  The legislation directs the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop a comprehensive rebuilding and development strategy for Haiti, establishes a policy framework to ensure U.S. assistance efforts will strategically address critical priorities, and establishes a Senior Haiti Policy Coordinator, responsible for advising, overseeing, and coordinating U.S. policy towards Haiti.

Last month, the Committee majority staff issued a report as part of the ongoing examination of the effectiveness of the relief and recovery effort in Haiti.  The report is based on several committee staff visits to Haiti, both before and after the January earthquake.  Committee staff conducted a series of meetings and interviews with State Department and USAID officials, Haitian civil society and government officials, non-governmental organizations, and United Nations officials.  The report highlights ten critical issues that require the Government of Haiti and the Obama administration’s urgent attention. Efforts to rebuild Haiti could be derailed if these critical issues are not addressed adequately in the coming weeks.

Read "Haiti at a Crossroads" report, which identifies the following key issues:

  • Establish a feasible, comprehensive rebuilding strategy
  • Build leadership and capacity in the Government of Haiti
  • Empower the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission
  • Address the resettlement issue
  • Hold elections expeditiously
  • Donors need to speak with one voice and improve coordination
  • Coordinate U.S. assistance efforts with the Government of Haiti and other donors
  • Rebuild Haiti’s decimated civil service
  • Maintain security gains
  • Bring the broader Haitian community into the rebuilding process

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