U.S. Government Should Allow USAID To Join Puerto Rico Humanitarian Response Efforts

HuffPost: Let USAID Help Puerto Rico
Ben Barer, journalist and former USAID employee

“U.S. disaster relief agencies are struggling but failing to restore electricity, water, food, and medical care to 3.4 million citizens on Puerto Rico since two hurricanes hit last month. … The failure to allow USAID to join in rescue and relief operations in Puerto Rico is a classic form of turf war, so beloved by the Washington bureaucracy. … Although officials from FEMA and USAID note that funding for foreign aid is separate from U.S. disasters, … the U.S. president has the authority to shift funds and cover a USAID foray into American territory. … Why can’t USAID — the agency with the most experience in delivering humanitarian assistance — join in the apparently weak effort to help out the victims of hurricanes Irma and Maria? It is time to change the way we keep USAID disaster experts blocked off from U.S. territory emergencies. With dozens of years of expertise responding to tsunamis, earthquakes, fires, drought, and other emergencies, the foreign aid agency is a world leader and should be engaged in Puerto Rico” (10/19).