RESPONDING TO VICTIMS OF HUMANITARIAN CRISES
"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."
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.
A RECORD OF ACCOMPLISHMENT
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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