Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Haiti Urgently Needs More Tents, Congresswoman Waters tells Secretary Clinton

Press Release from Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Following her recent return from Haiti, where she met with residents of makeshift camps without adequate shelter, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) is highlighting the urgent need for more tents to be delivered to Haiti as quickly as possible.  She sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasizing that tents are needed before the impending rainy season in Haiti, which will further subject hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors to exposure to the elements and the spread of disease.  The text of the letter is below:

January 29, 2010

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW, Room 7226
Washington, DC  20520

Dear Secretary Clinton:

I just returned from Haiti where I witnessed the death and despair caused by the earthquake.  In the midst of this devastation, I was encouraged by the thousands of dedicated officials of the U.S. Government who are working throughout the country to address the tremendous needs of those affected by this disaster.

I write today to convey to you the urgent need for tents for the hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced from their homes.  Tents are absolutely essential to provide shelter during the rainy season, which is barely one month away.  The rainy season will increase exposure to the elements and cause diseases to spread if people are not adequately sheltered.  Tents must be at the top of the short-term priority list.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has estimated that between 800,000 and one million people have been displaced.  I personally saw countless people living on the streets with no place to go.  Many of these people have been seriously injured, and some are recovering from amputations.  Thousands of people have open wounds that have not even begun to heal.  If these wounds are exposed to contaminated rainwater or runoff, diseases could spread quickly and widely, adding to the suffering and public health crisis.

While I was in Haiti, I met with Ms. Kim Bolduc, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, who is in charge of humanitarian affairs and relief efforts.  She informed me that Haiti needs at least 220,000 tents prior to the impending rainy season.  I also met with Haitian President René Préval, who said that tents were the nation’s number one priority and that the country needs at least 250,000 of them.  Moreover, when I met with Mr. Tim Callahan and other members of the USAID team, they too emphasized the importance of shelter.

I urge you to take all necessary and appropriate action to procure and distribute enough tents to provide shelter to all Haitians who need them before the rainy season begins.  Please keep me informed of your actions in this regard.  I look forward to working with you to provide shelter to those affected by the earthquake and to address all of their needs.

Sincerely,

Maxine Waters
Member of Congress

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