The United States needs a “long-term coherent strategy” for recovery, development, and anti-poverty efforts in Haiti after its devastating earthquake, Bishop of Albany Howard J. Hubbard has said in a letter to U.S. political leaders.
Bishop Hubbard’s comments came in a Jan. 26 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk.
Writing as the chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, he said the USCCB welcomed President Obama’s “leadership and compassion on behalf of the American people.”
He noted the president had appointed Administrator Raj Shah to coordinate the U.S. government’s response and also had invited President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush to lead a bipartisan relief effort.
He added that Catholic Relief Services (CRS) took “immediate” steps to respond to the conference and the USCCB took up a special collection for relief efforts after the disaster.
Bishop Hubbard advised that different government agencies should be coordinated in a “comprehensive approach” that engages other groups with expertise and experience in Haiti. The bishop recommended debt relief, trade preferences, extension of protected status for Haitians living the United States, and sustained development assistance as part of the aid strategy.
“When the international community and Haitians move beyond the most urgent aspects of the emergency, we urge a substantial and sustained commitment by the U.S. Government to provide long-term funding for reconstruction and poverty reduction,” he continued.
“At the same time, our nation should work to support and strengthen the role of the Haitian Government and institutions in the reconstruction and long-term development of their nation.”
The letter closed by thanking the U.S. leaders and pledging the bishops’ assistance.
“Be assured that the Conference of Bishops and Catholic Relief Services are also doing everything possible to act in solidarity with the people and Church in Haiti at this time of terrible loss and suffering.”