The international anti-poverty nonprofit Oxfam condemned the U.S. government’s response to Hurricane Maria and announced Monday it will step in to help with the aid effort in Puerto Rico, in a rare move of involving itself in an American natural disaster.
The organization, which also worked to resettle refugees in the U.S., assists poor communities recovering from disasters and has as part of its mission to “ensure greater local resilience and the capacity of local responders and governments to deliver disaster response.”
In a press release, Oxfam accused the U.S. government of failing to meet island’s relief needs. “We are outraged at the slow and inadequate response the US Government has mounted,” Oxfam America’s president said in the statement. “Oxfam rarely responds to humanitarian emergencies in the US and other wealthy countries, but as the situation in Puerto Rico worsens and the federal government’s response continues to falter, we have decided to step in.”
While Oxfam did not say specifically how it would help, the organization promised to “work with Puerto Rican leaders to advocate with Congress and federal agencies” for better and faster help, and it said it would “channel vital resources and give technical support to the right people on the front lines.”
Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, and nearly half of the island still lacks clean drinking water. Puerto Rico also continues to grapple with a widespread power outage that has been particularly dangerous for hospitals. Much of the island’s infrastructure and crops have been destroyed, and many complain that the aid that arrived on the island has yet to be properly distributed. The conditions are dire, and the the Trump administration continues to be criticized harshly for its lagging response.