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Haiti is in need of millions of dollars to combat the cholera epidemic, but the US is still holding back $1.15 billion in Aid that has already been appropriated.  It's time to tell your congress members to stop sitting on the wallet and get that money to Haiti, where it's urgently needed.

AFP today reports on the need for $164 million in aid to combat the cholera epidemic in Haiti:

GENEVA — The United Nations on Friday appealed for nearly 164 million dollars in aid to tackle cholera in Haiti and avoid being "overrun" by the growing epidemic.

"We hope we can get this otherwise all our efforts will be overrun by the epidemic," said Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Byrs said UN, other aid agencies and Haiti's health ministry needed 163.8 million dollars for a strategy to stifle the sudden epidemic, which has infected more than 11,000 people and killed 724 since last month.

The strategy drawn up by the UN "anticipates up to 200,000 people to show symptoms of cholera ranging from cases of mild diarrhoea to the most severe dehydration" over a period of about six months, OCHA and the World Health Organisation said.

That's an urgent need for $163.8 million dollars.

The US previously appropriated $1.15 billion dollars in aid for Haiti, but guess what?  That money has not been delivered.  In other words, the funds needed to combat the cholera epidemic are already appropriated in the US but Congress is sitting on the wallet and the aid has not been delivered.  That means that unless the US releases these funds, aid for fighting the cholera epidemic has to come from elsewhere.

Yesterday's Miami Herald Editorial, which is worth reading in its entirety because it describes the situation in Haiti fully, made the point about these funds clearly:

President Obama can send a signal by calling for lawmakers to move quickly to allow disbursement of $1.15 billion in reconstruction money for Haiti. The president signed a bill approving the money last July, but the funds remain stuck on Capitol Hill while lawmakers quibble over the details of a spending plan.

I agree with that.  I haven't heard the President or anybody in government call for the immediate release of these funds.  So yesterday I wrote requesting that all of us immediately email and phone and write our congresspersons to demand the release of these funds.  Yesterday the silence that resulted from this was disturbing.  You'd think we'd want to get these funds released.

So I am trying again today and sending the same message:

It's simple what to do. Email or call your Senators and Congresspersons. Ask them, please, to make sure that these funds get released.

Here's my email, that I sent to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand:

I am deeply concerned that the cholera epidemic in Haiti endangers the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and that US aid to the country is bogged down and has not been received. The Congress appropriated more than $1 billion for aid to Haiti after the earthquake earlier this year. Today's Miami Herald Editorial notes, "President Obama can send a signal by calling for lawmakers to move quickly to allow disbursement of $1.15 billion in reconstruction money for Haiti. The president signed a bill approving the money last July, but the funds remain stuck on Capitol Hill while lawmakers quibble over the details of a spending plan." I am writing because I want you to do whatever is in your power to get this aid delivered to Haiti. This aid is already long overdue. And receipt of this aid in Haiti is urgently needed to save lives.

Please pitch in. I don't want to sit here and watch this cholera epidemic unfold without a major effort to stop it.

The small act of writing or calling Congress can save thousands of lives in Haiti.  Please join me in getting these funds released.

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simulposted at The Dream Antilles

Originally posted to davidseth on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 05:27 AM PST.

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