Over Half of Haiti Population Could Face Severe Hunger by Next Month, U.N. Warns
BOSTON – This week, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), along with Representatives Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Andy Levin (MI-09), Jim McGovern (MA-02), and Frederica Wilson (FL-24), led a letter to United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Power urging her to act to ensure food security in Haiti. The United Nations has warned that up to half of Haiti’s entire population will be confronting severe hunger by next month.
“Currently, 4.5 million Haitians are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity. While this is currently the result of the domestic situation in Haiti and lower-than-expected humanitarian food assistance, historic U.S. policy has also contributed to the problem and we have a moral responsibility to address it,” wrote the lawmakers. “We can and must support Haiti by ensuring it both receives emergency food aid, that aid is efficiently and equitably distributed, and that it is directed towards long-term sustainability and security for the Haitian people.”
In their letter, the lawmakers urged USAID to work with grassroots and community organizations and include them in the food distribution process, and to continue collaborating with the Inter-American Foundation to ensure inclusion of locally-led development. The lawmakers also urged USAID to purchase emergency food aid from local sources whenever possible and ensure that long term aid directed at Haiti be used to support smallholder farm families. Finally, the lawmakers asked that all aid be coordinated directly with national and regional Haitian authorities and that grassroots organizations are provided the opportunity to both inform and help implement aid-based programs.
The letter was also signed by Representatives Alma Adams, Karen Bass, Earl Blumenauer, Jamaal Bowman, Anthony Brown, André Carson, Troy Carter, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Charlie Crist, Danny Davis, Val Demings, Anna Eshoo, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, Raúl Grijalva, Jahana Hayes, Pramila Jayapal, Hank Johnson, Mondaire Jones, Ro Khanna, John Larson, Al Lawson, Gwen Moore, Eleanor Norton, Ilhan Omar, Frank Pallone, Donald Payne, Katie Porter, Jamie Raskin, Bobby Rush, Albio Sires, Dina Titus, Rashida Tlaib, Juan Vargas, and Susan Wild.
This past month, on Haitian Flag Day, Reps. Pressley, Levin, Clarke and Demings marked the one-year anniversary of the formation of the House Haiti Caucus, a Congressional caucus dedicated to pursuing a just foreign policy that puts the needs and aspirations of the Haitian people first.
In February, Reps. Pressley, Judy Chu (CA-27), and Nydia Velázquez (NY-07) led 33 other House Democrats on a letter to CDC Director Walensky demanding answers about the agency’s justification for treating asylum seekers as a unique public health threat, how these expulsions are being coordinated, how asylum seekers being returned to dangerous situations are being cared for, and more. Days later, Rep. Pressley once again called on the Biden Administration to reverse the Title 42 Order and other anti-Black immigration policies.
Rep. Pressley has consistently called on the Department of Homeland Security to end the practice of expelling migrants under Title 42 and to employ alternative forms of humanitarian relief for detainees subject to deportation for the remainder of the pandemic. In April, she joined her colleagues at a press conference reaffirming her support for President Biden’s decision to end Title 42. Full video of her remarks at the press conference is available here.
In September, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Velázquez led 54 of their colleagues on a letter calling on the Biden Administration to immediately halt deportations to Haiti and provide humanitarian parole protections for those seeking asylum. The lawmakers’ letter followed the Administration’s resumption of deportation flights to Haiti as thousands of Haitian migrants continue to await an opportunity to make an asylum claim at the border.
Rep. Pressley joined her colleagues on the House Oversight Committee in demanding answers regarding the inhumane treatment of migrants in Del Rio, Texas, by Border Patrol agents on horseback and pushing to Biden Administration to end the ongoing use and weaponization of Title 42.
In July 2021, the Reps. Pressley, Clarke, Demings and Levin issued a statement condemning the assassination of President Moïse and calling for swift and decisive action to bring political stability and peace to Haiti and the Haitian people.
Massachusetts is home to the third largest Haitian diaspora community in the country, with approximately 46,000 Haitians and Haitian-Americans living across the state and over half in the Boston metropolitan area. Additionally, Massachusetts is home to more than 4,700 Haitians with Temporary Protected Status.