Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
January 14, 2010

QUESTION: Right now, we want to switch gears and speak with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is coordinating the relief efforts in Haiti. Good morning, Madame Secretary.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, Maggie.

QUESTION: We have heard all morning long from people in Haiti who just want help, and they’re frustrated that it has been slow in arriving. We’ve also heard about the many U.S. resources that have been deployed to Haiti. Can you tell the people there and their relatives watching here in this country when you expect these resources will start to make a difference there?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they already are. The President ordered a swift, coordinated, aggressive response, and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. But let me just give you a sense of what we’re up against. The airport lost its air traffic control system, and of course it was damaged. In order to get the airport up and going so we can land the kind of heavy planes with the massive amounts of aid that is needed, we had to send in a military team to get the airport running. That has been accomplished.

You heard about how the port has been damaged. That is a big problem because that prevents us from getting our ships in. We have a team working on that. We also have our crack search-and-rescue teams from FEMA and USAID, from Fairfax County, from Miami-Dade, from L.A. They’re already there on the ground. The Fairfax County team has been working. We’ve got the 82nd Airborne coming in. The Coast Guard has been magnificent.

The depth of it and the extent of it is just unimaginable, as Katie and others are telling you. And depending upon where you are, you may or may not see the results of this coordinated effort. But we’re working closely with the Haitian Government. The president was safe, but many parts of his government are unaccounted for. They have no communications system. We’re bringing the communications system so they can start to talk to one another. We’re working with the United Nations, which was responsible for coordinating aid, which as you know has been devastated with an enormous loss of life.

So I think the American people can be assured that we’re doing everything we can to help the people of Haiti. And it’s not just for the days ahead with the terrible crisis of search and rescue. It’ll be for months and years ahead as we help them rebuild.

QUESTION: I know you’ve also been successful in getting some Coast Guard choppers in there and airlifting some injured Americans. With 45,000 Americans living in Haiti, do you have any idea how many Americans were lost or injured in this earthquake?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I mean, the hopeful news is that we don’t have many reports yet. We’ve had a good outreach. It’s called the Warden System, run by the State Department. Our Ambassador and his team is on the ground, trying to track down every American who we have any kind of contact information for. As you know, the cell phones were down, all kinds of difficulties with impassable roads. But we are locating Americans. We are evacuating those Americans who wish to leave. We’ve evacuated some of the injured Americans. And I want to give you a number, Maggie –


SECRETARY CLINTON: – so that if people are worried about Americans in Haiti, it’s 1-888-407-4747. Please call that number –

QUESTION: The number the President --


QUESTION: -- gave us yesterday, and then we’ve put it up on the screen right now.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right. Good, good.

QUESTION: I just have one more quick question: Has there been any discussion about giving Haitian nationals temporary protective status, allowing them temporarily to have asylum in Florida or elsewhere in this country?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have, as you know, many Haitian Americans. Most are here legally. Some are not documented. And the Obama Administration is taking steps to make sure that people are given some temporary status so that we don’t compound the problem that we face in Haiti.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton –

SECRETARY CLINTON: But I have to add, Maggie, that we need the help and the generosity of the American people. We have a text messaging system that the State Department set up. It’s Haiti, H-a-i-t-i, to 90999. We’ve raised about $3 million for the Red Cross. That’s what’s needed right now. Please, if you can, contribute. Ten dollars will be billed to your cell phone, and it’s helping us get the food, the water, the medical supplies that we need.

QUESTION: Thank you so much for your time, Secretary Clinton.


QUESTION: You’re welcome.

PRN: 2010/043