U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the following statement today on the House Floor in support of H. Con. Res 1021, expressing condolences and solidarity with the people of Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Last week, Haiti was hit by the largest earthquake to strike that nation in over two centuries. Today, Haiti was affected by a 6.1 magnitude quake.
"When the original quake hit last week, it was a day like any other.
"With elections on the horizon and a sense of stability slowly starting to be felt on the island, some believed that things were finally starting to look up for Haiti.
"And then, without warning or reason, tens of thousands were suddenly victims. Millions were left homeless or hungry, or both. Buildings collapsed, countless disappeared, and the world was left asking why.
"The tremendous loss caused by this tragedy will stay with us long after the roads have been cleared and the physical wounds healed.
"My most sincere prayers and thoughts go out to all who have been impacted by this catastrophe.
"The desolation left in its wake is beyond words. And yet, there is one thing it has made clear- the people of Haiti are not alone in this struggle.
"Since news of the earthquake reached our shores, the American people have opened their hearts and their wallets to help earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
"Both through the many donations of money, food and water, and volunteer work, and through U.S. agencies providing disaster relief assistance, our nation has been working around the clock to provide immediate help to all who have been affected by this horrific tragedy.
"U.S. Coast Guard aircraft began arriving almost immediately to transport injured personnel and conduct aerial assessments of the situation on the ground. Coast Guard cutters with medical and other humanitarian supplies arrived soon after, followed by our USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team; multiple U.S. Urban Search and Rescue Teams, including two from Miami; the 82nd Airborne Division and Marine contingency; and emergency medical teams and food assistance.
"And, of course, the remarkable contributions made by private U.S. citizens and corporations, totaling over $40 million as of last week and still growing.
"In addition, we have seen an outpouring of support from countries and people around the world. Among many steps taken by countries around the world, Israel sent a 220-person medical delegation and set up a much-needed field hospital.
"The European Union has reportedly pledged 200 million Euros to help rebuild Haiti, over and above emergency aid being sent. The British government will triple its aid to Haiti, to $10 million.
"Israel quickly set-up a full-service field hospital equipped with operating rooms, an intensive care ward, a maternity ward, a pediatrics ward, incubator units, a pharmacy, x-ray equipment, 10 tons of medical equipment, 90 beds, 66 intensive care beds and two delivery beds, and approximately 250 personnel, including 40 doctors and specialists, 20 nurses and several paramedics
"The search and rescue teams of the Israeli Defense Forces were also quickly deployed to Haiti and include about 30 operators and dozens of operations personnel comprising logistics, information technology, communications and canine units. More IDF delegations are scheduled to depart for Haiti this week.
"As a result, this resolution importantly supports the organization of an international donors conference and calls for certain accountability measures to be put in place in order to ensure that the support is delivered in a way that is immediate, targeted, coordinated and transparent.
"Now more than ever it is crucial that our assistance go where it is supposed to go, when it is supposed to go, and how it is supposed to go.
"We have a responsibility to the people we represent and to the people we wish to help to ensure that the aid reaches its intended recipients and is used for its intended purpose. This is particularly important moving forward.
"Again, I extend my most heartfelt condolences to all those who were impacted by last week's earthquake.
"And I reiterate the pride I feel as I look at how the American people--our constituents--have responded to the cries of anguish and cries for help of the Haitian people.
"Mr. Speaker, I would like to again thank and applaud the American people for the generosity and compassion they have shown in the wake of this tragedy.
"According to the State Department, the American Red Cross effort has received over 2 million contributors and raised over $23 million so far.
"In addition, we continue to see admirable contributions from many American corporations and businesses.
"My own district of Miami, Florida has sent two Urban Search and Rescue Teams to Haiti and pledged $60,000 to relief efforts.
"The Port of Miami and Miami International Airport are waiving certain fees for relief-related efforts.
"And, several other assets from South Florida are also being utilized, including U.S. Southern Command, which is serving as the operation center for the U.S. response; Coast Guard Key West; and Homestead Air Reserve Base, a departure point for C-130s carrying relief, supplies, and personnel to Haiti.
"And just today, the USNS Comfort received its first Haitian patients, a 6-year-old boy and 20-year-old man, flown via helicopter to the nearly 900-foot floating hospital. The Comfort is reported to be carrying about 550 medical staff and about 60 civilian mariners.
"Again, the American people have opened their hearts and their wallets to help earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
"As a people and a nation, the United States will continue to move hand in hand with the people of Haiti to swiftly respond to and recover from this tragedy."