Washington, DC – Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of international humanitarian organization Oxfam America, made the following statement in response to a Congressional vote allocating nearly $1 billion in funds for recovery and reconstruction in Haiti:
“We commend Congress for supporting a comprehensive budget package for Haiti, which includes funding for some of the earthquake-stricken country’s most vital needs like shelter, healthcare, and education as well as support for agriculture, food security, and reforestation.
“More than six months after the earthquake, 1.5 million people remain homeless in Haiti. With the hurricane season underway, the government of Haiti needs support from the international community to ensure the safety and security of these vulnerable people. These funds are a critical step toward following through on US government promises made at the international donor conference for Haiti back in March. More than $5 billion were pledged by donor countries to support recovery and reconstruction of Haiti, but only about 10 percent of that money has been transferred to the country.
“We know the challenge in Haiti is sustainable development. These funds will have a better chance of resulting in long-lasting, positive change if local realities and communities’ expressed needs inform their use. The Haitian people must control the recovery process, and the US government must support a leading role for the Haitian government in planning and rebuilding the country. However, mechanisms must be put in place to guarantee accountability and transparency to ensure the money is really going to the most vulnerable people in a timely manner, avoiding unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles.
“As we continue recovery work with our partners in Haiti, Oxfam looks forward to a coordinated effort to support Haitians as they rebuild their lives equitably and accountably. We are encouraged by Congressional support for helping Haiti recover from this disaster and finally break the cycle of poverty.”