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Legislative alert from Br. Steve Herro, diocesan social concerns director

I ask you to please consider contacting Cong. Kagen (www.kagen.house.gov) or Cong. Petri (www.petri.house.gov) concerning HR 6021 and Sen. Kohl(www.kohl.senate.gov) and Sen. Feingold (feingold.senate.gov) concerning S 3317. At this point, no Wisconsin Congressman or Senators have agreed to co-sponsor either bill.

H.R. 6021/ S 3317, the Haiti Emergency Assistance and Reconstruction (HEAR) Act, provide an effective policy framework for long-term recovery and development efforts in Haiti and allocates generous funding over five years towards this goal. The earthquake that devastated the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and surrounding areas in January 2010 killed more than 200,000 people and injured over 300,000. Houses and businesses were destroyed, leaving 2 million people displaced from their homes. Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere before the earthquake, is struggling to recover due to capacity, human, resource, and infrastructure constraints.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the Catholic community’s international relief and development agency, believe that the recovery efforts in Haiti require adoption of a strategy for long-term recovery and sustainable development that coordinates different U.S. government agencies in a comprehensive approach while engaging faith-based organizations and other groups with expertise and experience in Haiti. In a letter of support for HR 6021, CRS and USCCB stated that this bill represents a serious effort to address the long-term recovery needs of the Haitian people.

How is the Catholic Church responding to the Haiti earthquake? In partnership with Caritas Haiti and other Catholic Church agencies, CRS has provided food, medical care, and shelter to affected populations and is helping to rebuild critical infrastructure such as water and sanitation facilities. CRS additionally supports child protection programming, which includes family tracing to reunite separated children with their families, where possible, and the pursuit of durable solutions for orphaned children. CRS is also working throughout Haiti to assist the displaced located outside of the earthquake zone, and, through agriculture and microfinance programs, to help them find the means to remain in the countryside.

In a collection taken up after the earthquake, Catholics in the United States contributed $80 million to recovery efforts in Haiti, which is being used to provide assistance and to help restore Haiti’s infrastructure, including churches, schools, and clinics. CRS and the Secretariat for the Church in Latin America of the USCCB are administering the funds, in consultation with the bishops of Haiti. USCCB and CRS are actively advocating for U.S. government policies that assist Haitians in need and promote long-term reconstruction and development.

Thank you for your concern.
Steve Herro
Social Concerns Director, Diocese of Green Bay
1825 Riverside Dr.
P.O. Box 23825
Green Bay, WI 54305-3825
920-272-8299 (for 920 and 715 areas, 877-500-3580 x 8299)

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