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US offers hurricane assistance to Cubans amid blackouts

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MIAMI (AP) — The United States said Tuesday it has offered critical emergency humanitarian assistance to the people of Cuba to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, an unusual but not unprecedented move after years of bilateral tensions.

The assistance includes $2 million in provisions and supplies that will be delivered through independent non-governmental organisations that have experience and are already working on the island directly with the affected populations, said a senior administration official who asked to remain anonymous following government policies.

“We are responding to a disaster by working with our international humanitarian assistance partners to deliver critical assistance directly to those most in need,” she said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press before the official announcement.

“We stand with the Cuban people and will continue to seek ways to improve their political and economical well-being.”

The emergency aid will be provided through “trusted international partners,” like the Red Cross, by way of the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID.

The announcement comes after Ian hit the western part of the island in late September, causing extensive damage to its power grid.

The hurricane left large swathes of Cuba with blackouts, fuelling discontent on the Caribbean island, especially in rural areas where the blackouts are the worst.

Cuba already faced a deep energy crisis and economic turmoil before Ian, especially after a fire in August devastated an oil deposit 60 miles from Havana that was a key source of energy.

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