Haiti Relief Effort Spans Agencies
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2010 The Defense Department, other U.S. agencies, and international partners are teaming up today in a major humanitarian relief operation for the people of Haiti, officials said here today.
Food, water, shelter and medical support already are pouring into Haiti, Philip J. Crowley, assistant secretary of state for public affairs, told reporters today at a State Department news conference. Haiti was stricken by a Jan. 12 earthquake that damaged much of Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital.
“But even as we are focused on this disaster response,” Crowley said, “we are also focused on the longer term: how to sustain this relief operation over weeks and months and how ultimately the United States, working with the international community, will help Haiti rebuild.”
The United States today is mounting “a major relief operation” in Haiti, Rajiv Shah, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, told reporters. USAID is a State Department-affiliated agency that extends help to nations recovering from disasters.
The Haiti humanitarian aid operation, Shah said, is being conducted in close coordination among USAID, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, other U.S.-government organizations including the Defense Department, and civilian agencies.
Today’s arrival of the Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson off the coast of Haiti, Shah said, will “dramatically improve our capabilities to provide critically needed commodities and service support” to nongovernmental organizations and other partners providing aid to the Haitian people.
As stricken Haitians receive basic needs such as food, water, shelter and medical support, Shah said, urban search-and-rescue teams are busy combing Port-au-Prince to rescue people who may be trapped in the rubble.
The humanitarian relief effort also will lay the groundwork for a sustainable redevelopment of Haiti and of Port-au-Prince, with significant financial flows and significant partnerships to improve the development and health outcomes for the Haitian population, Shah said.
Meanwhile, he said, the United States is brainstorming with its partners in Haiti to arrive at ways to expand the reach of humanitarian aid to the affected population.
The Carl Vinson, Shah said, is preparing to deliver 600,000 daily rations to stricken Haitians, and $48 million worth of additional food assistance has been mobilized. The World Food Program and other sources, Shah said, are being mobilized to provide more food.
Also, 100,000 10-liter containers of drinking water have been allocated for Haiti’s people, Shah said, with 20,000 of them slated to arrive in Haiti today. Water-purification units also are en route to Haiti, Shah said.
The United States and other countries and agencies involved in the Haitian humanitarian relief effort are confident they’ll be able “to send significant commodities, significant materials and significant supplies” to Haiti, Shah said, and are working together to identify the best ways to make sure aid supplies are distributed to Haitians in need.