Press Release: New Report Explains How US Botched Overseas Aid after Katrina
On the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a new report sheds light on this and other fumbles that occurred as the U.S. government resisted, or mishandled, offers of foreign aid. “Role Reversal: Offers of Help from Other Countries in Response to Hurricane Katrina,” recommends steps the government and international community should take before the next large-scale disaster strikes America.
The report is based primarily on interviews with key US government and international experts and diplomats. The author, Anne C. Richard, is a fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations and Vice President for Government Relations and Advocacy at the International Rescue Committee. “During this hurricane season,” says Richard, “we should resolve to act on the lessons from Katrina and improve America’s ability to cope with the next disaster.”
Offers from other countries poured into the United States after Katrina struck on August 29, 2005. On September 1, though, President Bush vowed that “this country’s going to rise up and take care of itself.” FEMA managers argued that international help was not needed. Even after the State Department reversed course and welcomed outside aid, there was no system to vet the offers and donations, such as the British MREs.
Richard, in her report, tracks the final disposition of those meals – mostly to needy people in Eastern Europe.
The author includes recommendations for the US government and the international community, including adoption of a uniform list of goods for stockpiling and use in crises. Throughout, Richard makes that case that effective crisis response is an important part of international security.
The report is being published by the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University and is scheduled for release August 28, 2006.
The SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations engages international scholars, students, government officials, parliamentarians, journalists, business executives and other opinion leaders on contemporary challenges facing Europe and North America. The goal of the Center is to strengthen and reorient transatlantic relations to the dynamics of a globalizing world.
Since 1933, the International Rescue Committee has provided hope and humanitarian aid to refugees and other victims of oppression and violent conflict. Today, the IRC works in some 25 countries around the world. The IRC also help refugees who resettle in the United States to rebuild their lives.
To request a review copy of the report or to arrange an interview with Anne Richard, please contact:
Tina Susman at the IRC: 212 551 2950
Felisa Neuringer Klubes at SAIS: 202.663.5626
Copies of the book can also be obtained through the Brookings Bookstore
Tel 1-800-275-1447 or 202-797-6258
Online: Bookstore.brookings edu
On Thursday, September 7 at 9 a.m., SAIS will host a forum with Anne Richard where she will discuss her findings and be available to answer questions. The event will take place in room 500 of the Bernstein-Offit Building located at 1717 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.