The senior officer who has been leading the U.S. military earthquake relief effort in Haiti says the formal operation will end around June 1. But Army Lieutenant General Ken Keen says American efforts to help Haiti recover from the quake will continue beyond that date.
General Keen ended his three-month assignment as U.S. commander in Haiti on Sunday, handing over command to a slightly lower-ranking officer. The change reflects the reduction in the number of U.S. troops involved in the relief operation that peaked at 22,000 in February, most of them on several Navy ships.
Now the ships are gone and just 2,200 troops remain on land. They are helping move quake refugees to safer locations and providing other logistical help to Haitian and international relief efforts for the current rainy season and the approaching hurricane season.
The White House asked Congress on Wednesday for a $2.8 billion emergency aid package to assist Haiti in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people.
The request appeared to be on the high end of what lawmakers were expecting. But at least $1 billion of the amount was to reimburse the Defense Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development for money they had already spent in the relief operation. Some of the money would also go toward paying back Florida and other states for providing health care to Haitian victims.
The request includes at least $1 billion in new money for relief and reconstruction, according to details that the White House gave Congress.
On January 12, a massive earthquake struck the nation of Haiti, causing catastrophic damage inside and around the capital city of Port-au-Prince. President Obama has said, “at this moment, we are moving forward with one of the largest relief efforts in our history -- to save lives and to deliver relief that averts an even larger catastrophe. In these difficult hours, America stands united. We stand united with the people of Haiti, who have shown such incredible resilience, and we will help them to recover and to rebuild.”
The United States Government has mobilized resources and people to aid in the relief effort. At the direction of President Obama, this is a whole-of-government effort, and USAID has the lead in this swift, aggressive and coordinated response. Military personnel are playing an indispensable role in supporting this humanitarian effort, including making the logistics chain possible and distributing life-saving assistance. Aid workers are working around the clock to deliver more aid more quickly and more effectively to more people in need.
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this afternoon in support of a resolution expressing condolences to and solidarity with the people of Haiti after last week’s devastating earthquake. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“I join my colleagues in expressing my sorrow over last week’s earthquake, which shattered the lives of so many of the people of Haiti. And I do so fully knowing that no words we say here can rebuild a collapsed home, or heal the wounds of the living, or bury the dead. At times like these, we say that words fail: they fail to capture the true scope of devastation and suffering, and they fail to effect any change for the better.