Plan for Haiti
On July 7, 2021, tragedy struck. Someone shot and killed Haitian president Jovenel Moïse at his private residence located in the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. After the death of President Moïse, police murdered four suspects during a gun battle. Meanwhile, the authorities arrested the other two. With authorities in Haiti not identifying the suspects, natives have been on edge trying to put pieces of the puzzle together. This has led to questions regarding who the suspects are, why they committed the crime and what is the next plan for Haiti is.

The US’ Response to Assassination

Acknowledging the mishap, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, expressed that “Those responsible for this heinous act must be brought to justice. The United States echoes calls for calm, and we are committed to working together to support democracy, rule of law and peace in Haiti.” U.S. President Joe Biden gave his take on the situation, adding, “The people of Haiti deserve peace and security, and Haiti’s political leaders need to come together for the good of the country.” The Pentagon press secretary John Kirby reveals that the U.S. focuses on gaining an understanding of how to investigate this crime and attaching a criminal name to it.

President Biden’s Administration plans to send the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to Port-au-Prince to brainstorm ways the U.S. would support the Caribbean amid the chaos. The U.S. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced a delegation meeting with the Haitian government to discuss organizational structures to gain a better understanding and met with Haitian national police currently investigating Haitian President Moïse’s assassination.

Past US Involvement with Haiti

In the past, the U.S. has provided aid to Haiti. Looking back at Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake, the U.S. offered humanitarian assistance, in other words, to promote human welfare. The priority areas of focus for the U.S. have been economic growth, poverty reduction, improved health care, food security, human rights, improved democratic institutions and building a more reliable Haitian National Police team. Economic growth became possible in Haiti; thanks to the U.S., there was an opening of 14,000 jobs in the apparel industry at the Caracol Industrial Park after the 2010 earthquake. Furthermore, 27,000 new jobs emerged in the year following Haiti’s natural disaster.

The employment rate increased through the work of Local Enterprise and Value Chain Enhancement, as well as Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investments. Democratic Institutions were able to develop with the United States funding of a 10-megawatt power plant to provide 24-hour electricity to the Caracol Industrial Park and five collectives surrounding the park. They provided electricity to more than 14,000 households, businesses and government institutions.

Food Security in Haiti

Food security increased thanks to the U.S.; it helped 70,000 farmers increase crop yields. Haiti received assistance in part because the U.S. “introduced improved seeds, fertilizer, irrigation, and other technologies to more than 118,000 farmers through food security programs.” For human rights, the U.S. targeted The Haitian National Police. The U.S. assistance programs have impacted the HNP through an increase of 15,300 officers. Because of this change, more Haitians now have access to police officers; another advantage of the increase is the ability to evaluate police commissariats – also known as police stations in the United States.

In health care, the United States’ assistance has resulted in improvements in child nutrition and mortality, access to maternal health care and the control of HIV/AIDS. Former President Barack Obama’s Emergency Plans for Aids Relief involved U.S. government interventions contributing to the maintenance of HIV reduction, keeping it at 2% for a decade. To give a better perspective of what changes took place, the U.S. government placed 164 clinics across Haiti in August 2019. As a result, 73,000 children received vaccines, skilled professionals operated on 24,500 births and 40,000 women could access routine health care for pregnancy.

Plans for US Involvement in Haiti

With the U.S.’ ability to support Haiti in the past, there is no doubt a plan is in the works. Paski looks back at her trip to the nation, “This is just the beginning of our conversation. We will remain in close touch with law enforcement, with Haiti, about how we can assist and provide assistance moving forward.” Haiti has requested that the White House send troops to help stabilize the country. The Interim Claude Joseph iterates, “We definitely need assistance and we’ve asked our international partners to help.” As there is no president in power as of now due to the death of the Supreme Court President Rene Sylvestre from COVID-19, State Department Spokesman Ned Price has advised, “It is still the view of The United States that elections this year should proceed.”

With an international support system for Haiti after the death of President Jovenel Moise, a plan for the island to get back on track is in the works.

– Alexis Jones
Photo: Unsplash

Syrian AidIn March 2021, the Biden administration announced it would provide roughly $600 million in humanitarian assistance to Syria. This Syrian aid aims to help the millions of refugees in the country as well as the native Syrian population. In addition to this pledge, the U.N. is seeking $4.2 billion to help Syrians and about $5.8 billion for countries hosting Syrian refugees. These efforts are being made as the war in Syria reaches its 10th year and continues to be one of the worst humanitarian crises.

US Aid to Syria

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced that the U.S. would contribute $600 million in aid during a conference titled “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” in Brussels. At the conference, Blinken said, “There is no military solution that will bring peace, security and stability to Syria and the region.” He then continued, “Systemic corruption and economic mismanagement at the hands of the Assad regime have exacerbated the dire humanitarian crisis, which has been further compounded by the challenge of COVID-19.”

At the figure of roughly $600 million, this amount is slightly less than the 2020 pledge from the U.S. where the U.S. aimed to contribute $700 million in Syrian aid. However, the United States still remains the largest donor in Syrian response efforts. In fact, the U.S. has contributed almost $13 billion to the cause since 2011.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, also addressed the announcement of the Syrian aid at a press briefing. She confirmed, “This funding brings the total U.S. government humanitarian assistance to nearly $13 billion since the start of the decade-long crisis.” She further stated that the monetary assistance includes nearly $141 million in support of the COVID-19 pandemic efforts in the Syrian region. This assistance will provide humanitarian relief to the Syrians still living inside Syria as well as the 5.6 million Syrian refugees in asylum countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

A Commitment to Continued Support

The pledge of $600 million from the U.S. also illustrates a break from the Trump administration’s efforts to cut aid to Syria and foreign assistance funding. However, even despite Trump’s opposition, Congress for the most part disagreed and U.S. assistance to Syria remained steady throughout his term. This continued funding comes at a good time as humanitarian needs in Syria has never been greater, according to the United Nations. Roughly 66% of Syrians need humanitarian assistance. Across Syria, UNICEF estimates that more than half a million malnourished children are experiencing stunted growth due to inadequate food and nutrition.

Vulnerable Palestinian Refugees

Meanwhile, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is still advocating for the support of the 440,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria. The UNRWA reports that a shocking 90% of these refugees in Syria are living in absolute poverty. Since the Biden administration pledged to restore relations with Palestinians, the U.S. is expected to resume aid to the relief agency since Trump ceased funding to the UNRWA in 2018.

With significant support from the U.S. and the rest of the international community, the humanitarian crisis in Syria may finally come to an end. Supporting Syrian aid ultimately means supporting the most vulnerable people in desperate need of relief.

Elisabeth Petry
Photo: Flickr