Congresswoman Waters Calls on USAID to Save the Lives of Children Starving in Haiti

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Press release: published on House.gov, by Maxine Waters , November 25, 2008.

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Maxine Waters (D‑CA) called for a redoubling of efforts by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to treat hunger and malnutrition in Haiti.  Her comments follow a report from the Associated Press that at least 26 severely malnourished children have died in the last four weeks in a remote region of Haiti.  Aid workers fear the death toll could rise much higher.

“I am appalled that children are starving to death in a country so close to America’s borders.  I call on USAID to take immediate action to locate all Haitian children who are in danger of starvation and ensure they are receiving appropriate nutrition therapy.  Starving children and their families in remote areas should be evacuated if necessary in order to access medical treatment,” said Congresswoman Waters.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  Haiti’s unemployment rate is nearly 80%, and an estimated 78% of the population lives on less than $2 per day.  During the months of August and September, Haiti was devastated by four deadly hurricanes in rapid succession.  According to USAID, these storms killed 793 people and destroyed 14.6% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).  More than 150,000 families were displaced from their homes, and more than 845,000 people (9% of the population) were directly affected.

Haiti has also been impacted severely by the international food crisis.  Prior to the hurricanes, the prices for staple foods had increased over 40% since the beginning of the year.  Food prices have risen further in the aftermath of these storms, which washed crops away and caused almost $200 million in damage to the agricultural sector.

“Congress is deeply concerned about poverty in Haiti, and we have provided USAID ample resources to address the needs of the Haitian people.  Following the hurricanes, I initiated a request to congressional leaders for disaster assistance for Haiti, and Congress appropriated $100 million.  It is now up to USAID to use these resources effectively to save lives,” said the Congresswoman.

Contact: Michael Levin, 202-225-2201.

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