Originally issued January 13, 2010.

Our hearts are broken by the devastation wrought by the earthquake in Haiti yesterday. Pax Christi USA’s expresses our deepest sympathy and grief for our Haitian sisters and brothers affected by this disaster. We are especially concerned for our colleagues with Pax Christi Haiti and their families. As of Wednesday afternoon, their safety and whereabouts were still unknown. We pray for them and for all Haitians who have experienced this devastation. Their suffering calls us to action, and many in our movement are already responding to the call for volunteer relief workers and donations for emergency relief efforts.

Pax Christi USA applauds the U.S. administration’s timely response to this humanitarian emergency. President Obama’s pledged support and commitments to Haiti, as well as former President Bill Clinton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s preliminary visit, are essential initial steps to providing hope to the Haitian people. Yet, massive and sustained efforts will be key to not only providing disaster relief but to addressing the broader and long ignored institutional and structural needs of the people of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

We call for a monumental and unprecedented effort from President Obama’s administration to generously provide for the immediate relief efforts needed in Haiti, while also committing to a partnership with nongovernmental organizations and the Haitian government to assure the rebuilding and reconstruction of civil society and infrastructure that can lead to a new Haiti. Pax Christi encourages the U.S. to take this opportunity to embark on a bold, new policy toward Haiti, employing a long-term, collaborative approach and deferring to the advice and expertise of Haitians and in-country actors who, out of love for Haiti, have long struggled in solidarity alongside the Haitian people.

From the chaos of this disaster, let a new relationship between the U.S. and Haiti be born, with new policies rooted in compassion and respect for our sister to the south.

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