Thursday, February 4, 2010

Who's paying for Haiti?


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via The Cable by Josh Rogin on 2/2/10

The State Department and the White House are busily working on a new request for supplemental funding to cover the near and immediate term costs for Haiti relief. But in the meantime, other countries funded by the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance are feeling the pinch and being forced to accept big budget cuts.

Consider this email sent to Somali teams working with OFDA funding that was sent to The Cable (emphasis added):

As a result of Haiti there have been some significant budget changes at OFDA that will have a major impact on the Somalia programs," it reads, "As you are probably well aware, OFDA is engaged in a multi-million dollar response in Haiti. As a result, we have had to make all available resources available for Haiti. What this means is that all regions within OFDA are being reduced by 40% resulting in subsequent reductions in planned programming at the country level."

State Department P.J. Crowley told The Cable that the redirection of funds from other countries' accounts was necessary but would not have consequences on the ground unless there is a long delay in receiving supplemental funding, which he said is unlikely.

"This temporary movment of money from the Somalia account to the Haiti account is going to have no impact on the ground in Somalia," Crowley said, "assuming that the supplemental occurs expeditiously."

In an exclusive interview with The Cable, Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew said that although the administration couldn't include Haiti funding in this week's budget request because the crisis came too late, the administration plans to ask for more Haiti relief funding soon. "There will be additional requirements related to the Haiti earthquake," said Lew. "We're working with OMB to come up with both the requirements and a strategy for meeting those needs."

A senior Democratic Senate aide told The Cable that the administration is "expeditiously" preparing a Haiti supplemental that will be separate from the regular and supplemental budget requests given to Congress this week, although no final decisions have been made.

In the meantime, "those places where they have existing or ongoing humanitarian issues are the ones that are having to slash their budgets," the Senate aide said, "That's basically saying there's a hierarchy of humanitarian assistance and Haiti is the most important ... and the other places will have to make due at the moment."

"We've drawn down emergency funds substantially," Lew acknowledged.


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