Congresswoman Waters Commemorates the 2nd Anniversary of Haiti’s Earthquake
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a strong advocate for the Haitian people in the U.S. Congress, issued the following statement today to mark the second anniversary of the deadly 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti:
"Two years ago today, Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people and displaced more than 1.5 million people. The main port, the presidential palace, the parliament, the majority of ministry buildings, more than 50 hospitals and health centers, 1300 educational institutions, and more than 105,000 homes were left in ruins. The earthquake left millions of people in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country living in absolutely horrific conditions.
"Immediately following the earthquake, there was an outpouring of sympathy from people in the United States and around the world who wanted to help the Haitian people survive, recover, and rebuild. Numerous Americans opened their hearts and their wallets to help. I introduced H.R. 4573, the Debt Relief for Earthquake Recovery in Haiti Act, which was signed into law by President Obama three months after the earthquake. This law led to the cancellation of approximately $828 million of Haiti's debts, freeing up resources for the Government of Haiti to use for earthquake recovery efforts. The United Nations held a donors' conference, which I attended, and the international community pledged a total of $9.9 billion in reconstruction funds – including $5.3 billion for the first two years.
"Yet two years later, the U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti reported that less than 53% of the funds pledged at the U.N. donors' conference has been disbursed. Moreover, the money that has been disbursed has not made a visible impact upon the lives of the Haitian people. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), over one half million people are still living in tent camps. There is a critical need for housing and basic infrastructure. A deadly outbreak of cholera has already killed approximately 7,000 people and continues to infect people in many parts of the country.
"Many people in Haiti have criticized the international community for not being forthcoming about the use of international assistance funds. Meanwhile, many people in the international community blame the Government of Haiti for failing to effectively coordinate the delivery of international assistance.
"I am in awe of the strength and resiliency of the Haitian people. We owe it to them to stand by them and make certain that the aid that was promised is actually delivered. We also owe it to them to make certain our assistance reaches the people who need it most.
"I call upon the Government of the United States and other donor governments to keep their promises to the Haitian people. I also call upon the Government of Haiti to make certain its plan for Haiti's recovery and development takes into consideration all of the challenges facing the Haitian people. It is long past time to remove the rubble from the streets, move people out of tents and into permanent housing, build Haiti's infrastructure, and respond to the cholera outbreak with the urgency it deserves."
To read more about Congresswoman Waters' longtime work on Haiti, click here.