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Office of the First Lady

For Immediate Release May 18, 1999
               First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton Announces 
             New U.S. Initiatives To Assist Kosovar Refugees

                             May 18, 1999

Today, the First Lady announced new U.S. initiatives to assist Kosovar refugees. These projects reaffirm the U.S. commitment to assist the victims of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo until they can return to their homes and rebuild their lives. The new initiatives bring total U.S. assistance to over $200 million.

ERMA Assistance

The President has authorized the expenditure of an additional $15 million from the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund (ERMA) to assist Kosovar refugees. The State Department's Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration will channel these funds through U.N. organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international and non-governmental organizations who are providing refugee relief. The funds will also support efforts to relocate up to 20,000 refugees to the United States. The President has previously approved $70 million from this account to assist Kosovar refugees.

Refugee Internet Information Center

This week, the United States will establish an Internet Information Center in Ft. Dix, New Jersey, to help refugees access information in their language on the situation in Kosovo, communicate with other Kosovar refugees and locate missing family members. The U.S. Information Agency (USIA) is spearheading this public-private partnership, which links government agencies, technology companies, foundations and international relief organizations in a coordinated effort to bring to refugee communities the hardware and software necessary to establish internet-based platforms and support humanitarian efforts. Additional information centers will be established in Macedonia, Albania, Poland, Germany and France.

The initiative is coordinated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration. Leading companies include Apple Computer, Inc., Autometric, Inc., Canon, Cisco Systems Inc., The David Sarnoff Corporation, The Document Company, Xerox, Gateway and the Waitt Family Foundation, Hewlett-Packard, International Data Group, Interpacket Group, Inc., the Markle Foundation, the National Technology Alliance, Northwest Airlines, Riso, Inc., SGI, UPS and 3M.