U.S. should provide at least $350 million to Haiti

April, 2009

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom has long had an interest in and concern for Haiti -- Emily Greene Balch led a WIlPF delegation to Haiti in 1929 during the US military occupation of that country. Her report, "Occupied Haiti," detailed significant human rights abuses committed by US troops during that 17 year occupation. Today our concern for Haiti, one of our nearest Caribbean neighbors, is the extreme poverty of its 9 million citizens.

On April 3, 2009, Congresswoman Maxine Waters sent the following letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting at least $350 million for assistance to Haiti in the State, Foreign Operations Appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2010. A total of 37 Members of Congress signed this letter.

We urge you to provide at least $350 million for assistance to Haiti in the State, Foreign Operations Appropriations bill for FY 2010. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. According to the CIA's World Factbook, there is widespread unemployment and underemployment, and more than two-thirds of Haitian workers do not have formal jobs. There is a high risk of major infectious disease, including diarrhea, hepatitis, typhoid fever, dengue fever and malaria. The infant mortality rate is nearly 6 percent, and almost half of the adult population cannot read and write.

Haiti has been adversely impacted by a series of unfortunate events over the past year. Global economic forces have caused sharp increases in food and energy prices in Haiti and an escalation of hunger. Last fall a string of hurricanes and tropical storms caused tremendous loss of life and unprecedented destruction of infrastructure throughout the country. Moreover, Haiti can expect to be severely and negatively affected by the recent downturn in the economy of the United States. Not only does the United States serve as a valuable market for Haiti's exports, Haiti is also heavily dependent upon remittances from Haitians living in the United States.

A significant increase in foreign assistance is necessary to enable Haiti to meet the basic needs of its people and build a foundation for economic growth. There is a critical need for investment in maternal & child health, clean water & sanitation, basic education & infrastructure. There is tremendous need to build government capacity & train public sector officials so that the government can meet the needs of its people in the future.

Haiti is a democratic nation in close proximity to American shores. The government and people of this impoverished nation need and deserve a robust commitment of foreign assistance from their American neighbors. We therefore urge you to provide no less than $350 million for assistance to Haiti in FY 2010, and we look forward to working with you to address the needs of the government and people of Haiti.

Sincerely,
Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
James P. Moran (D-VA)
Eliot Engel (D-NY)
Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL)
Al Green (D-TX)
André Carson (D-IN)
Barney Frank (D-MA)
Bill Delahunt (D-MA)
Bobby L. Rush (D-IL)
Charles Rangel (D-NY)
Corrine Brown (D-FL)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
Donald Payne (D-NJ)
Donna Christensen (D-VI)
Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Edolphus Towns (D-NY)
Elijah Cummings (D-MD)
Gwendolynne Moore (D-WI)
James Oberstar (D-MN)
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Jim McDermott (D-WA)
John Conyers (D-MI)
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Kendrick B. Meek (D-FL)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL)
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH)
Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI)
Melvin L. Watt (D-NC)
Paul Tonko (D-NY)
Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ)
Robert C. Scott (D-VA)
Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA)
Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY)

On April 6, US UN Ambassador Rice spoke to the UN Security Council regarding Haiti. Read a transcript of her remarks.

On April 14, the Inter-American Development Bank will host a Haiti Donors Conference. The Center for Strategic and International Studies published Critical Questions on the conference. Coverage of this conference and other regional news is available from Caribbean Net News.

WILPF Action: Ask your Congressperson and Senators to support foreign aid to Haiti.

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