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‘Red Tape’ In U.S. Food Aid Program Hindering Humanitarian Efforts In Philippines

“Like many others, I am thankful for the generosity of my fellow Americans, many of whom have already donated millions to the [Philippines typhoon] relief effort. But I could never have imagined that red tape and outdated rules written by the U.S. Congress in the 1950s could delay urgently needed relief from reaching the millions of people who desperately need humanitarian assistance in my native land,” Juanita Salvador-Burris, a community leader in the Filipino American community of Illinois, writes in a Guardian opinion piece. “These regulations require the vast majority of U.S. food aid to be shipped from preferred growers in the U.S. on preferred U.S. ships … more than 11,000 nautical miles across the ocean, even though there is ample food available much closer to the crisis, in unaffected areas of the Philippines and in countries like Thailand and Vietnam — at a lower price for taxpayers,” she notes.

“Delays in delivering food because of red tape doesn’t just cost tax dollars, it can cost lives,” Salvador-Burris continues. “Since I started a petition to exempt Typhoon relief from outdated regulations, tens of thousands of Americans signed on to let the U.S. Congress know they care about the issue,” she notes, adding, “Their message is loud and clear: fix the broken food aid system. Haiyan is a perfect example of why reform is so desperately needed, both now and for future disasters.” She concludes, “[I]f we achieve this small change in policy, we can be proud of helping to empower the Philippines to walk strong on the long road to recovery and rebuilding” (12/17).