The Trump administration is using a $3 billion program that provides emergency cash assistance to needy Americans to fund a wide range of foreign aid programs, a top federal official said Friday.
The department also is providing emergency cash for nearly $1 billion in humanitarian assistance, including $900 million in Haiti relief.
The cash assistance, which also is available to states and local governments, is intended to help states and cities meet their humanitarian needs, Assistant Secretary of State for Humanitarian Affairs Elizabeth Hill said at a press briefing.
Hill said the aid has helped the United States deal with a severe humanitarian crisis in Haiti.
Hill called the relief program a “very important tool” in the United Nations response to the devastation caused by the devastating earthquake in Haiti and the devastating hurricane in Florida.
“The United States is the only country on Earth that has the ability to provide relief,” she said.
The United States has already spent more than $3.1 billion on humanitarian aid in Haiti since the country’s devastating earthquake, and more than the combined annual spending of all other nations combined.
Hill also said the $1.1-billion supplemental federal disaster relief grant program that the administration announced in June will provide $5 billion for disaster relief and $5.6 billion for recovery efforts.
The U.S. government is providing additional aid through the United Way, which has pledged to provide $1-million each for the first three weeks of 2018, Hill said.
She said the U.N. is providing $1 million each for Puerto Rico, where it is providing relief.
Hill, who is also the assistant secretary for international development, said the United Nation’s humanitarian emergency fund is expected to be fully operational this year.
The administration is also using emergency supplemental aid to provide assistance to states in Puerto Rico and Florida, which Hill said is the largest emergency relief effort in U.K. history.
The island of 2.4 million people has been without power since April 15 and has experienced severe flooding.
Nearly 2 million people have been displaced, and the government says more than 2,300 people have died in the disaster.
The Trump presidency has been plagued by scandal over his response to Hurricane Maria, in which a Category 5 hurricane slammed into Puerto Rico in October and destroyed many homes and infrastructure.
The president has defended his handling of the storm, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency has declared a disaster.