THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Additional U.S. Humanitarian Relief for Kosovar Albanians
Today, the President announced a variety of new initiatives designed to enhance and expedite the international humanitarian response to the worsening plight of the nearly 1 million Kosovar Albanian refugees and displaced persons.
First, the President announced the appointment of Brian Atwood, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, to coordinate the U.S. Government's overall humanitarian response to the Kosovar refugee crisis. Administrator Atwood will chair a coordinating council to include: Julia Taft, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, who will take the lead in the response by the civilian agencies to the refugee crisis; James Lee Witt, Director of our Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who will coordinate private donations to the aid effort and ensure their proper delivery; and Lieutenant General John "Mike" McDuffie, who will be the coordinator for our military assistance to the relief operation.
Second, at the President's urging, NATO has put its 11,000 troops in Macedonia to work in addressing the humanitarian crisis, and is planning to deploy several thousand troops to Albania, not only to provide aid, but to provide security for relief operations.
Third, the President has ordered the U.S. military to send on an urgent basis various forms of relief to the region, including in the next several days:
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has established Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DART) in Macedonia and Albania. These teams are evaluating needs and coordinating our humanitarian response on the ground.
The U.S. government has provided over $150 million in humanitarian assistance to displaced Kosovars since February of last year. This sum includes the provision of $50 million authorized by President Clinton on March 31. Half of this aid will be used to provide financial support to international organizations such as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees as well as numerous nongovernmental organizations. The other half is comprised of goods and services, including transport, shelter and logistical support, to be provided by the Department of Defense.
President Clinton ordered the prepositioning of humanitarian supplies in the region well in advance of the current refugee crisis in preparation for a variety of contingencies. The United States established stockpiles that would feed 500,000 people for three months. The U.S. also sought to ensure that U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was prepared for the humanitarian crisis. UNHCR had stocks ready in locations such as Copenhagen, Macedonia, and Albania that included tents, blankets, plastic sheeting, jerry cans, kitchen sets, stoves, soap, mattresses, and radio equipment, among other items.
The President also announced 1-800-USAID-RELIEF -- a new USAID phone number, run by USAID Public Information, for those who want to contribute to the humanitarian response.
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