The United States is working to help countries in Latin America and the Caribbean recover from natural disasters that hit in recent weeks. A deadly eight-point-zero magnitude earthquake struck Peru, killing hundreds of people and injuring and displacing tens of thousands more. Hurricanes have hit the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Belize, Mexico, Honduras, and Nicaragua, among other countries, killing dozens and displacing many more.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, or U-S-A-I-D, and the U.S. Department of Defense have together provided more than two-and-a-half million dollars in humanitarian assistance to Peru so far this year. Working with the Peruvian government, United Nations agencies, and private aid groups, the U.S. is helping Peru cope with the earthquake's aftermath in other ways: U-S-A-I-D, for example, has delivered emergency relief commodities via three airlifts to Peru. The commodities included four ten-thousand-liter water bladders, seven-thousand-eight-hundred ten-liter water containers, three hundred rolls of plastic sheeting, and fifteen thousand blankets. U-S-A-I-D has also provided an office support module for the U.N. Disaster Assessment and Coordination team.
Anticipating hurricanes in the Caribbean, U-S-A-I-D dispatched disaster teams to several countries, including Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Belize. Those teams, says U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey, can quickly assess the specific needs of people affected by the hurricanes:
"U-S-A-I-D has already had, and for some time, has several warehouses in Florida where they have pre-positioned supplies and some of the basic kinds of items that one would need to respond to these kinds of incidents. And our embassies, of course, are also prepared to provide what kinds of financial assistance they have within their authority to do."
The United States is also helping to build the capacity of governments throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to respond to disasters and emergencies. Since 1998, the U-S has provided more than thirty million dollars to create and maintain a network of disaster assistance experts throughout the region.
The United States will work with countries hit by natural disasters to ensure that aid gets to people in need as quickly as possible.