Sun | Sep 24, 2017

US offers relief to Haiti and Jamaica

Published:Friday | October 7, 2016 | 10:01 AM
A man piggybacks a woman across a street flooded by a nearby river which overflowed as a result of the heavy rains caused by Hurricane Matthew in Léogâne, Haiti, on Wednesday.

An initial sum of US$400,000 in relief assistance has been earmarked by the United States government for Haiti and Jamaica in the wake of the passage of Hurricane Matthew, which caused minor damage to the eastern section of the country and devastated parts of Haiti.

At a press briefing at the US State Department in Washington on Tuesday, Mark C. Toner, deputy spokesperson, said that the US has already started mobilising assistance to communities impacted by the dangerous storm.

Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Kingston Joshua Polacheck confirmed that the US government would allocate funds to Haiti and Jamaica. However, he could not provide details of how much would be disbursed to the respective countries at this time.

"As the deputy spokesperson said, we set aside US$400,000 and we'll set aside some additional funds for the Bahamas. We have to do an assessment of the damage and the needs in each country before we can make the determination on where the balance of the funds would be distributed," Polacheck told The Gleaner on Wednesday.

CRITICAL RELIEF SUPPLIES

He said THAT the needs assessment would be done jointly with the governments of Haiti and Jamaica.

At Tuesday's press briefing at the US State Department, Toner said the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to the Central Caribbean.

He said the DART, which is an elite team of disaster experts, is coordinating with governments of the affected countries and humanitarian organisations who are already on the ground providing humanitarian assistance and logistic support to those in need in the aftermath of the hurricane.

According to Toner, the DART has experts in Haiti, Jamaica and the Bahamas, adding that the US government is also communicating with officials in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, as well as the Cayman Islands in order to coordinate relief efforts if requested.

Toner pointed out that the USAID Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance had sent emergency relief supplies to Haiti. He said additional shipments of commodities from its emergency stockpiles in the region had been prepared for rapid distribution to the thousands of families impacted by the hurricane. "We'll work with international partners to distribute critical relief supplies, manage emergency shelters, and provide logistic support to humanitarian organisations," he said.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that authorities in Haiti said that five people were crushed by trees and six were swept away by swollen rivers. Yesterday, reports were putting the death toll in that country at more than 100.