Saturday, April 28, 2007

Most Foreign Aid for Katrina Recovery Was Turned Down

(U.S. diplomats) knew the U.S. government was turning down many allies' offers of manpower, supplies and expertise worth untold millions of dollars. Eventually the United States also would fail to collect most of the unprecedented outpouring of international cash assistance for Katrina's victims.

Allies offered $854 million in cash and in oil that was to be sold for cash. But only $40 million has been used so far for disaster victims or
reconstruction, according to U.S. officials and contractors. Most of the aid went uncollected, including $400 million worth of oil. Some offers were withdrawn or redirected to private groups such as the Red Cross. The rest has been delayed by red tape and bureaucratic limits on how it can be spent.

In addition, valuable supplies and services -- such as cellphone systems, medicine and cruise ships -- were delayed or declined because the government could not handle them. In some cases, supplies were wasted.

Yet another way our government failed the victims of Hurrican Katrina.

Overall, the United States declined 54 of 77 recorded aid offers from three of its staunchest allies: Canada, Britain and Israel, according to a
40-page State Department table of the offers that had been received as of January 2006...

Of $454 million in cash that was pledged by more than 150 countries and foreign organizations, only $126 million from 40 donors was actually received...

Of the $126 million in cash that has been received, most has not yet been used. More than $60 million was set aside in March 2006 to rebuild schools, colleges and universities, but so far, only $10.4 million has been taken by schools...

But none of that money has been used yet, said Meg Casper, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Education. Allocations were just approved by the state board last week, she said, "so the money should start to flow."

Nor horrible fate we could dream up would be fitting for those whose incompetence cost more people lives and have impeded recovery from this horrible disaster.

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