$100 million in federal funding will go toward the U.S. relief effort under way in Haiti, President Barack Obama pledged on Thursday. A massive earthquake shook the small island nation earlier this week.
Delivering a prepared statement in the White House Diplomatic Room, Obama said that he has instructed relevant federal agencies to make the relief effort a "top priority" and pledged for the first time a definite amount of federal funding to the cause.
Obama also said that the $100 million investment "will grow in the coming year as we embark on the long-term recovery from this unimaginable tragedy."
The announcement comes a day after a group of 14 senators wrote leaders in the upper chamber asking them to authorize "robust and immediate" funding for Haitian relief.
The president first spoke about the magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Wednesday, pledging the "full support" of the U.S. in the disaster relief efforts. Leaders in Congress backed the president's multi-thronged approach.
On Thursday, Obama said that the "first waves" of rescue and recovery personnel were on the ground in Haiti with more to come. He also noted that the U.S. military has secured the major airport there and has prepared it to receive heavy equipment needed for the cleanup and rescue.
Obama said that an airlift has been prepared to provide food, medicine and water to victims. He also stressed there is "no higher priority" than ensuring the safety of American citizens there. An airlift has already rescued injured American citizens, he said.
The president called the campaign "one of the largest relief efforts in our recent history" and called on Americans to donate to charities assiting in the relief.
"We need to summon the tremendous generosity and compassion of the American people," he said.
At the end of his statement Obama addressed the Haitian people, saying, "Help is coming."