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Torres, Foreign Affairs Cmte Leaders Urge Stronger US Response to Hurricane Eta

November 10, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (CA-35), the only Central American-born lawmaker in Congress, partnered with House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) Chairman Eliot Engel (NY-16) and HFAC Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade Chairman Albio Sires (NY-08) to send a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,  urging the administration to bring all resources to bear and lead an all-hands effort with international partners to deliver urgently-needed relief to countries impacted by Hurricane Eta.

The letter, which was also sent to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Defense’s U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), acknowledges the U.S. has already provided some aid to the region, including at least $320,000 for Central America countries and important support from SOUTHCOM. But with more than 100 fatalities and tens of thousands of displaced people, the letter seeks assurances that sufficient resources are delivered to the devastated region. 

Specifically, the lawmakers request details on:

  • The types and amount of aid provided to each country impacted by Eta;
  • The role the U.S. is playing in an international response to the hurricane;
  • What assets SOUTHCOM has deployed, and what assets they plan to deploy in the future;
  • Any administration analysis on how Hurricane Eta will further cause climate migration to the United States.

 

The lawmakers released the following statements:

“Hurricane Eta was an unavoidable natural disaster, but its aftermath is a preventable humanitarian crisis in the making,” Rep. Torres said. “The United States should be leading on the global stage and helping to stabilize the region before displaced families flee on the dangerous trek to our southern border. As someone who knows firsthand how ill-prepared Central American governments are to meet the needs of this moment, I urge Secretary Pompeo to bring any and all resources to bear. Inaction now will mean more suffering for Central Americans and more migration challenges for the United States going forward.” 

“Hurricane Eta’s devastation of Central America is reminiscent of the damage done by Hurricane Mitch 22 years ago,” Chairman Engel said. “My heart goes out to the families of those who were killed by Eta as well as the hundreds of thousands who have been displaced. A large-scale U.S. effort is needed to provide much-needed relief to those affected by Eta so that they aren’t forced to leave their countries and make the perilous journey north. It is far past time for all political actors to acknowledge that climate migration is real and must be seriously addressed.”

“I have been devastated to see the destruction and loss of life that Hurricane Eta has inflicted upon communities in Central America, Mexico, and Cuba,” Chairman Sires said. “I applaud Joint Task Force-Bravo’s search and rescue efforts and I urge the U.S. Department of State and Agency for International Development to provide a level of humanitarian assistance that reflects the seriousness of this storm.”

 

The full text of the letter is available here.

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