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Cardin Calls for Increased Humanitarian Assistance in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew Devastation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry and Administrator Gayle Smith of the U.S. Agency for International Development Tuesday, calling for a substantial increase in assistance to the people of Haiti following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew last month. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians still lack reliable access to necessities such as shelter, water, food and medical supplies. 

“Haiti has a tragic history of devastating natural disasters that are then compounded by an inadequate international humanitarian response. It’s not too late to prevent further suffering by augmenting our financial, material and outreach support to the Haitian people. Doing so is a national security and moral imperative of the United States, and I encourage other members of the international community to increase their involvement as well,” Senator Cardin said. 

The text of Senator Cardin’s letter to Secretary Kerry and Administrator Smith follows: 

Secretary Kerry and Administrator Smith: 

I write to express my concern about the immense humanitarian needs in Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, which has left more than 1.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.  Many of the individuals most severely impacted by the hurricane are spread out across small villages that largely depend on farming. Widespread damage to crops undercuts their ability to rebuild their livelihoods in a rapid manner, and at least 800,000 are in need of urgent food assistance.  

Currently, funding to mobilize life-saving assistance is inadequate to address the impact of this natural disaster.  I urge you to work with your counterparts – both regionally and globally – to secure increased funding so that the effects of the hurricane are not compounded by an inadequate humanitarian response. 

Of those most affected by the hurricane, 40 percent are children, and a large number have been separated from their families.  I ask you to prioritize the protection of children to ensure that they are not unnecessarily institutionalized as a result of separation and that rigorous systems for case management of unaccompanied and separated children are established quickly and effectively.  Additionally, humanitarian assistance should seek to target families at risk of separation due to lack of services and livelihood options. 

As the United States leads a coordinated international response to the humanitarian challenges in Haiti, I encourage you to expand outreach and consultations with Haitian-American leaders and community organizations. They maintain close contact with family and friends in the most affected areas and are uniquely informed about their most pressing needs.  

Finally, I welcome the announcement by Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council of a new election date, which was postponed as a result of the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. As Haitians pursue a path of collective reconstruction, it is imperative that the leadership of a democratically-elected government is at the forefront of this effort. 

For that reason, I commend your decision to provide up to $5 million to the UN Office for Project Services to support transparent and effective election administration, as well as $2 million to the Organization of American States for observation efforts that will increase confidence in the results of the process. 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.