US of­fers re­lief to Haiti and Ja­maica

Jamaica Gleaner - - SOMETHING EXTRA -

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.

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