Dear Bishop Griswold:
Thank you for your April 8 letter in which you shared your views concerning U.S. policy toward Haiti and the experiences of Haiti’s people as reported through your church. The U.S. Government is deeply concerned about the humanitarian, economic, and political situation in Haiti. We are committed to seeking opportunities to work with the new interim government of Haiti to improve the lives of the Haitian people over the longer term.
The United States remains Haiti’s largest overall assistance donor. In the last two years, we have provided over $125 million in bilateral humanitarian and development assistance to the people of Haiti through non-governmental organizations. U.S.-funded programs include child immunization, HIV/AIDS prevention, reproductive health, primary school education, agricultural development, food assistance, and democracy training. The United States has also provided over $3 million in emergency assistance since February 18. This amount adds to the $55 million in U.S. assistance already budgeted for Haiti for fiscal year 2004.
The United States has also taken the leading role in establishing the Multinational Interim Force (MIF), authorized under UN Security Council Resolution 1529 of February 29. As of April 15, the MIF totaled some 3,900 troops, with roughly 2,100 from the United States. The MIF is actively engaged in activities conducive to achieving a secure and stable environment on the island. MIF efforts are critical to the free flow and delivery of essential services and humanitarian assistance. We expect that the UN Security Council will authorize a follow-on peacekeeping operation, a concept we fully support, to follow the MIF once its mandate expires June 1.
It is a national priority for the United States to deter illegal mass migration by sea, which 1eads to needless loss of life. Timely repatriation of illegal Haitian immigrants has been an essential factor in preventing the loss of life and property at sea, deterring additional surges of unsafe and illegal migration, and staving off dangerous and destabilizing mass migrations such as those which occurred in 1991 and 1994. It is a longstanding US policy to provide all interdicted migrants with a meaningful opportunity to seek and receive protection against persecution or torture.
The power to grant Temporary Protective Status (TPS) is based upon specific, narrow criteria outlined by the U.S. Congress and is vested in the Secretary of Homeland Security, following consultations with the State Department and other appropriate government agencies. Although Secretary Ridge has not designated Haiti for TPS, the Department of Homeland Security and other U.S. Government agencies closely monitor the situation in Haiti, and will consider events as they unfold.
The U. S. Government and our partners in the international community will continue to address the humanitarian challenges in Haiti. We are working with the Government of Haiti to restore the rule of law and to promote the necessary reforms for constitutional democracy including free and fair elections in Haiti. I hope this information addresses your concerns.
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Colin L. Powell