Obama seeks $2.8 billion for Haiti

WASHINGTON Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:29pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama asked the U.S. Congress on Wednesday for $2.8 billion in emergency funds to provide for costs associated with relief and reconstruction for Haiti, after its devastating earthquake on January 12.

"The proposed totals for FY 2010 in my FY 2011 Budget would increase by $2.8 billion as a result of these amendments," Obama said in a letter to Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.

The letter asked Congress to consider budget amendments for the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, State and the Treasury, as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The Obama administration has played a major role in aid to Haiti since the earthquake, which killed up to 300,000 people, destroyed much of the infrastructure in the hemisphere's most impoverished country and ruined its economy.

On Obama's instructions, the U.S. government and military became Haiti's leading emergency relief provider in the weeks after the quake, playing a major role in bringing aid supplies, maintaining security and dispensing medical help.

International donors are to meet in New York to plan the country's recovery.

Economists have estimated the quake damage in Haiti at up to $14 billion.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, editing by Stacey Joyce)

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