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Fact Sheet: Humanitarian Aid to the Afghan People as of 10/24

(Issued by Department of State's Office of International Information Programs)

This fact sheet outlines the efforts as of October 24, 2001, to provide relief assistance to the Afghan people while the United States and its allies conduct military operations against the Al Qaida terrorists and the Taliban regime which shelters them in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Leads International Relief Aid to Afghans

-- The United States leads the international community in providing relief aid to the Afghan people inside their country and in the refugee populations in the border areas of neighboring countries.

-- More than 80 percent of all food shipments sent to Afghanistan through the United Nations' World Food Program (WFP) originates in the United States.

-- Some 34 U.S. non-governmental relief organizations are engaged in providing humanitarian relief to the Afghan people.

-- America has resolved to remain the leading food donor to the Afghan people.

A Tradition of Humanitarian Aid to Afghans

-- The United States has been providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan for many years. The U.S and Japan were the leading contributors to the umbrella UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan when it was established in 1988. At that time, the major focus was on eliminating an estimated 10 million land-mines which littered the Afghan landscape and barred efforts to help Afghanistan's reconstruction and development.

-- In the early 1990s, the U.S. became a major contributor to the UN Development Program (UNDP), which sought to implement an ambitious plan for the rehabilitation of Afghanistan.

-- But two decades of internecine war, three years of severe drought, and five years of Taliban misrule have created a humanitarian crisis in which Afghans face starvation. Millions have have fled to several neighboring countries.

-- In early October, the U.S. stepped up the level of its humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. On October 4, President Bush announced the allocation of an additional $320 million for more food and more medicine to help the innocent people of Afghanistan deal with the coming winter. "This," said the president, "is our way of saying that while we firmly and strongly oppose the Taliban regime, we are friends of the Afghan people."

Food for Afghans Delivered by Air and Over Land

-- As the U.S.-led coalition forces maintain their military operations in Afghanistan, the United States presses on with its enhanced humanitarian aid to suffering Afghans inside the country and in the border areas of neighboring countries.

-- President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld have repeatedly emphasized that humanitarian aid is another major goal of the U.S. military action to uproot the terrorists and make their sponsors in Afghanistan pay a heavy price.

-- By October 24, teams of Air Force C-17s have airdropped a total of over 770,000 humanitarian daily rations (HDR) for Afghans facing starvation, according to the Defense Department.

-- Contrary to Taliban disinformation, these packets contain balanced and nourishing meals prepared carefully to provide Afghans with adequate dietary rations, plus medical supplements. The Taliban's reported destruction of some of these packets demonstrates the brutal nature of that regime and its wanton disregard for the survival and well-being of the Afghan people.

-- As soon as the U.S. forces secured dominance of the skies in Afghanistan the week of October 7, food deliveries over land were resumed. Today, overland food convoys are operating, battling tough terrain, reported looting by Taliban elements, and mountain roads blocked by snow. (WFP is buying 16 snowplows to clear roads, while USAID is studying plans for possible airlifts, and the use of mules to deliver food supplies).

-- In the last few days, the WFP, which receives large contributions from the U.S., has increased its food deliveries to Afghanistan from 200 metric tons (MT) a day to 900 MTs, according to WFP Executive Director Bertini on October 24.

-- Bertini expressed confidence that the deliveries could be significantly increased. "In the next ten days," she noted, "we expect to deliver 16,000 tons if all goes well."

-- Food deliveries will continue, and the international community aims to transport nearly 400,000 tons of food into Afghanistan over the next year, American and UN sources say.

U.S. Commitment to Helping the Afghan People is Unshakable

-- The United States has been the single largest donor of humanitarian aid for Afghans for the past several years. In 2000, the United States contributed a total of $113 million in humanitarian aid to Afghans, both inside Afghanistan and in refugee camps in neighboring countries. In 2001, the aid level has already exceeded $184 million, accounting for some 300,000 tons of food sent to Afghanistan this year.

-- On October 4, President Bush announced a new contribution of $320 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghans. This assistance includes food, medicine, blankets and shelter.

-- On October 22, the U.S. announced an additional contribution of $10 million to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assist Afghan refugees fleeing to neighboring countries. This brings U.S. contribution to the UNHCR to $14 million to date. These contributions are part of the $320 million announced by President Bush October 4.

-- And on October 24, USAID awarded $26.5 million in grants to assist the people of Afghanistan. The grants are for medical supplies, shelter, and winterization assistance, water/sanitation projects, complementary foods such as cooking oil, and logistical support, according to a USAID press release.

-- These funds were budgeted before September 11 and are not part of the $320 million allocation.

-- U.S. humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people derives from a somber awareness of the plight of the Afghan people and a genuine concern to help them in their time of need and adversity.

This concern is the reason why the United States has led the international aid effort for Afghanistan, why the United States has supplied more than 80 percent of all food sent to vulnerable Afghans through the UN's World Food Program, and why the United States is committed to remain the leading food donor to the Afghan people.