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US aid chief to announce $25 million in humanitarian assistance for Haiti

USAID Administrator Samantha Power arrives to a news conference, in Guatemala City

By Daphne Psaledakis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. aid chief Samantha Power is set to announce $25 million in humanitarian assistance for Haiti on Friday, according to a statement seen by Reuters in advance, as the Caribbean nation faces a long-running political and humanitarian crisis.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

The announcement of further aid, first reported by Reuters, comes as gang violence has spiraled in Haiti, fueling a humanitarian crisis, cutting off food supplies and forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes.

The additional assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development will go toward immediate food assistance, essential relief supplies, relocation support and emergency health care, Power said in the statement.

Psycho-social support, safe drinking water and protection for the most vulnerable, including women and girls, will also be part of the aid, Power said.

KEY QUOTES

"Over the past weeks, violence by organized criminal groups has escalated dramatically and worsened what is already a dire humanitarian situation in Haiti," Power said in the statement.

"The untenable violence serves only to delay the democratic process while upending the lives of millions. We urge all actors in Haiti to stop the violence and make the necessary concessions to allow for transparent, inclusive, and credible elections, unimpeded delivery of aid, and the restoration of democracy."

Power also called on other donors to also scale up humanitarian assistance to the country.

CONTEXT

The additional aid comes after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at talks in Jamaica on Monday pledged $33 million in humanitarian aid for Haiti, which Power said comes on top of the $146 million already provided by the U.S. since October 2022.

Heavily armed gangs have taken over much of the capital in Haiti, and rights groups have reported widespread killings, kidnappings and sexual violence. More than 360,000 people are internally displaced in Haiti, according to U.N. estimates.

Unpopular Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced on Monday he would step down once a transition council was in place.

The capital, Port-au-Prince, was initially quieter after the announcement, but violence appeared to be flaring up again as of late Wednesday, with a shootout in one neighborhood and an attack on the police academy early on Thursday.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)