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New Gibbs Statement on Haiti

From the White House press secretary…

As the people of Haiti observe a national day of mourning to remember those lost in the catastrophic earthquake one month ago, the United States continues to stand with our Haitian friends as they recover and rebuild. Our thoughts and prayers also remain with Haitian-Americans around our country who have lost so many family and friends.

We are grateful to the many Americans who have responded with such speed and compassion to assist the relief efforts being led by the Haitian government and supported by the United Nations, as well as many countries and non-governmental organizations from around the world.

As part of the civilian-led American response, search and rescue teams pulled survivors from the rubble. Volunteer physicians, nurses and paramedics continue to deliver life-saving medical treatment. Having reopened the main airport and port to enable a massive international humanitarian effort, our servicemen and women are supporting the distribution of urgently needed food, water, medicine and shelter until these functions can be fulfilled by the rapidly-expanding civilian operation and the United Nations in Haiti. Americans have also generously contributed tens of millions of dollars to help, Congress took quick action, and the United States government is providing substantial immediate assistance. No relief operation of this magnitude and complexity is without its difficulties and challenges, but in cooperation with the Haitian government and our many partners, we have helped to save countless lives and avert an even larger catastrophe.

Nevertheless, the situation remains dire. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Today, the need for food, shelter, medical supplies and basic security is enormous, and the coming rainy season will pose new challenges. Infrastructure that was destroyed in minutes will take years to rebuild. Guided by the roadmap for cooperation and coordination developed by the government of Haiti, the United States will support our Haitian partners as they transition from emergency assistance to recovery and long-term reconstruction. The United Nations continuing appeal for additional peacekeepers and police, as well as next month’s donors’ conference at the United Nations, offer important opportunities for countries around the world to help Haiti recover and rebuild.

Amidst unimaginable suffering, the people of Haiti have inspired the world with their faith, strength of spirit and determination to rebuild. In the difficult months and years to come, they will continue to have a friend and partner in the United States of America.

See also Rajiv Shah, the administrator of USAID, reflecting on a month’s worth of relief efforts.

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