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"Nothing can ever compensate or take the place of the profound sense of satisfaction [we] must get when [we] go to bed at night knowing that [we] did something that was good and decent, not because [our] country wanted to dominate another people or control land, but because we want our children and their children to live in a decent world."

President Clinton
Ramstein Air Base, Germany
May 5, 1999

The United States continues to lead international efforts to provide assistance to victims of humanitarian crises around the world. The Clinton Administration has led international response efforts to food shortages in North Korea and the Horn of Africa, devastating hurricanes in Central America, disastrous earthquakes in Turkey and Taiwan, and the displacement of people in the Balkans. In all cases, our humanitarian assistance seeks to reach all needy civilians, regardless of the political views of their government.


  • Averted famine in the Horn of Africa in 2000. Several years of intermittent rains and poor harvests produced a severe drought in the region with the potential to negatively impact millions of people. Under these conditions, the Clinton Administration mounted a large-scale humanitarian response to the looming crisis. Providing over $500 million in support of food and non-food related emergency assistance, the United States helped turn around a potential famine on the scale of the Horn famine of the early 1980s, when millions of Africans died of hunger.
  • Supported a significant emergency feeding program in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) through the United Nations World Food Program and several U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations. The initiative, which provided lifesaving assistance to over one third of the population in the DPRK, has also resulted in a significant opening by the previously closed and secretive DPRK government to the outside world. Since 1995, over 1.3 million tons of food valued at over $450 million has helped save the lives of millions of Koreans.
  • Mounted a significant humanitarian effort in Timor - in support of Australia-led military efforts - to provide food, water, shelter and health care to tens of thousands of East Timorese displaced by the violence that followed their vote for independence and assisting these people to return to their homes. U.S. assistance totaled over $60 million, facilitated by President Clinton's authorization of a drawdown of $30 million from the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance account to address the needs of people displaced from and within East Timor. President Clinton authorized an additional $10 million to address the humanitarian needs of Chechen populations in the North Caucasus.
  • Deployed search and rescue teams, military personnel and assets and relief supplies to respond to two devastating earthquakes in western Turkey, allocating over $18 million to assist hundreds of thousands of Turks affected by the disasters. In November 1999, President Clinton visited a U.S.-constructed tent camp in Turkey and met with people displaced by the earthquake.
  • Reversed ethnic cleansing and facilitated the return of over 800,000 refugees to Kosovo, after meeting the needs of the refugees for several months in camps in neighboring Albania and Macedonia. The United States provided more than $450,000 million to assist displaced people within Kosovo, provide food, shelter, clean water and health and psychosocial care in the camps, and winter shelter upon their return to Kosovo. In March 1999, President Clinton directed U.S. troops to help address the humanitarian needs of Kosovar refugees and he authorized drawdowns of $85 million from the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance account to support Kosovar relief efforts and to provide temporary asylum for up to 20,000 Kosovar refugees in the United States. President Clinton traveled to Germany in April and Macedonia in May 1999 to visit Kosovar refugees, and then addressed Kosovar returnees during his visit to Kosovo in November 1999. The First Lady also visited Kosovar refugees in Macedonia and Albania in May 1999.
  • Mobilized the largest U.S. response to a natural disaster overseas ever, aiding millions of Central Americans affected by Hurricane Mitch, including deployment of U.S. military assets and disaster experts to address relief needs. The United States provided over $300 million in immediate relief and an additional $700 million to reconstruct and build disaster preparedness in the region. This aid was facilitated by President Clinton's authorization of drawdowns totaling $75 million in Department of Defense goods and services to support relief and rehabilitation activities. Submitted a supplemental budget request for $956 million, following Hurricane Mitch, to support Central America reconstruction and to reimburse relief assistance accounts, which was approved by Congress in May 1999.
  • President Clinton visited Honduras and Nicaragua, the countries most affected by Hurricane Mitch, in March 1999, after launching two Presidential Missions to the region: The first, led by Mrs. Gore, traveled to Honduras and Nicaragua in November 1998 to express the concern of the American people and help with disaster relief efforts. The second was led by the First Lady in December 1998 and included both Central American countries affected by Mitch and Caribbean countries that were devastated by Hurricane Georges.
  • Served as the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in Sierra Leone, contributing more than $220 million to meet the basic needs of civilian populations displaced by the war.
  • Led international humanitarian efforts in Sudan, by providing over $750 million to address the needs of millions of over 4 million internally displaced people throughout Sudan and more than 400,000 refugees in border countries, while also building the capacity and institutions of southern Sudanese to address their own needs.

  • Helped extinguish unprecedented forest fires in Mexico and Central America and built broader environmental cooperation between the United States and Mexico, by deploying U.S. fire-fighters and providing over $7.6 million to fund regional fire fighting control efforts.
  • Addressed the urgent humanitarian needs of displaced people in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the war, while also launching a major housing reconstruction program following the Dayton Agreement to repopulate affected villages and reactivate social and economic life. The United States provided over $450 million in humanitarian assistance to meet basic needs and support rehabilitation and peace-building efforts.
  • Mounted a major effort to meet the urgent needs of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans displaced during the genocide and subsequent military action, providing emergency food, water, shelter, sanitation and health care. President Clinton authorized the deployment of 2,000 U.S. troops to Rwanda and Zaire to assist in humanitarian relief operations under the auspices of Operation Support Hope and they were joined by civilian disaster experts from USAID. After the hostilities subsided, humanitarian assistance was also used to support rehabilitation inside Rwanda and to establish the International Criminal Tribunal and, in 1996, to support the mass return of Rwandan refugees to Rwanda. The United States has provided over $650 million in humanitarian assistance to support Rwanda-related needs.
  • Delivered urgently needed humanitarian assistance, restored critical infrastructure and stemmed migration in Haiti by providing $100 million in humanitarian assistance in support of "Operation Uphold Democracy."
  • Addressed urgent needs in Liberia and supported its recovery from the war by providing over $425 million in humanitarian assistance to meet basic needs, rehabilitate war victims and reintegrate both war victims and soldiers into Liberian society.
  • Led humanitarian relief efforts for over 3 million displaced persons in Northern Iraq and helped resettle thousands of displaced in villages by providing over $211 million in humanitarian assistance from 1992-1996. Also evacuated more than 6000 local Kurdish employees of U.S.-funded humanitarian organizations and their dependents in 1996 when their security was placed in jeopardy.
  • Initiated the Global Disaster Information Network (GDIN), under the leadership of Vice President Gore, to share emergency management information with disaster managers and the general public during all phases of a natural disaster. The GDIN system utilizes advances in information technology (i.e., remote sensing and computing capabilities) to support disaster preparedness, mitigation, relief, and reconstruction activities. Two domestic pilot projects and three international conferences have demonstrated the value of GDIN. In addition, "GDIN-like" products were provided to Central America, Turkey and Venezuela to help in their reconstruction efforts after they experienced natural disasters.

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