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December 11, 1998

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I want to thank the people across the United States who have responded to this tragedy with their generosity and hard work.

President Bill Clinton
December 11, 1998

Today, President Clinton meets with the Presidents of Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica and the Vice President of Guatamala to reassert the U.S. commitment to helping nations damaged by Hurricane Mitch rebuild. The President will also announce his intention to visit the region next year and a new contribution of food aid, valued at $17 million and bringing total U.S. relief efforts to $300 million.

Leading Efforts To Help The Countries Of Central America Rebuild. The devastation created by Hurricane Mitch did substantial damage to countries in Central America. Both First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Tipper Gore have traveled to the region, surveyed damage, and announced efforts on behalf of the Administration. As the needs of Central American countries shift from emergency disaster relief to long-term reconstruction, the United States will be there to assist in any way we can.

Working To Provide Aid To Hard-Hit Nations. Today, the President will announce that the United States is providing an additional $17 million in food aid, bringing our total relief assistance to $300 million. Since Hurricane Mitch hit Central America, the U.S. has provided the following assistance:

  • The Department of Defense has provided $150 million to support relief and rehabilitation efforts, including more than 3,000 soldiers who are assisting in clearing and repairing key roads, providing disease control and treatment, delivering relief supplies, and providing engineering expertise;
  • The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided $87 million in food and other relief assistance, including more than $52 million in food aid, enough to feed over 50 percent of those requiring food assistance, $30 million to help provide health care and temporary shelter, and other rehabilitation efforts, and $5 million to revitalize small businesses impacted by the hurricane. USAID will immediately direct $120 million to reconstruction efforts in Central America by reprogramming existing food and other funding and reallocating recently appropriated funding assistance;
  • The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing food aid and concessional loans, valued at $63 million. USDA is donating 120,000 metric tons of wheat to Honduras and Nicaragua, 60,000 metric tons of wheat for Guatamala and El Salvador, and 50,000 metric tons of corn for the four countries. USDA will also provide 420 million in grants for Honduras and Nicaragua for the purchase of beans, dry milk, vegetable oil, rice, and other basic commodities;
  • The U.S. and other creditor nations have relieved Honduras and Nicaragua from their debt service obligations through the year 2001, while encouraging other nations to do the same;
  • The Overseas Private Investment Corporation will work to spur private sector investment, starting with an initiative to accelerate more than $200 million in new projects for the region;
  • The U.S. has extended a stay of deportation for nationals from Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatamala through January 7, 1999 and is considering further measures.

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