Charity Urges Obama to Cancel Haiti's Foreign Debt

US-based charity Church World Service (CWS) called on President Obama on Friday to use the country's influence to cancel Haiti's remaining foreign debt and to provide assistance to the country without creating more debt.

The group noted the United States' "substantial voting power" on the boards of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB), and said that the country should "use its influence to secure immediate cancellation of these debts."

If cancellation can't be granted immediately, CWS said that Obama should call for a moratorium on all debt payments from Haiti with no accrued interest until cancellation can be agreed upon.

"The Haitian earthquake has caused horrendous loss of life and unimaginable destruction. Massive humanitarian and reconstruction assistance is needed. This should come as grants, not loans, so that Haiti does not become saddled again with large debts through no fault of its own," CWS said in a statement.

Meanwhile, CWS officials applauded the government's announcement on Friday that Haitians will be granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States while recovery efforts in Haiti continue.

"We are very appreciative of the efforts that the Obama administration has put forth to address the situation in Haiti, including extending Temporary Protected Status to Haitians," said Erol Kekic, Director of the Immigration and Refugee Program at CWS. "This will be an important component of a comprehensive U.S. humanitarian response to the current crisis in Haiti."

CWS has said it will provide legal assistance with TPS alongside its other efforts towards the Haiti crisis, which include providing funding and assistance for onsite shelter, food and medical needs.

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