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Senate Resolution on Afghan Humanitarian Aid

Text: Resolution on Afghanistan's Need for Humanitarian Assistance
(S. Res. 172 forwarded to Senate Foreign Relations Committee) (920)

Senator Paul Wellstone (Democrat of Minnesota) introduced a measure to the Senate October 18 on the need to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to both Afghan citizens and refugees.

The proposed resolution, Senate Resolution 172 (S. Res. 172), was forwarded to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

S. Res. 172 notes that "well before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Afghanistan was the site of the greatest crisis of hunger and displacement in the world."

After more than 20 years of conflict three years of drought, and "the repressive policies of the Taliban regime," the proposed resolution says, "4,000,000 Afghans had sought refuge in neighboring countries."

S. Res. 172 also points out that Afghan women "have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, and one in four children dies before the child's fifth birthday."

The Wellstone resolution calls on the United States to work to deliver "assistance, particularly through overland truck convoys, and safe humanitarian access to affected populations, in partnership with humanitarian agencies in quantities sufficient to alleviate a large scale humanitarian catastrophe." The United States should do that even as it engages in military action in Afghanistan, the resolution says.

The United States military is involved in on-going emergency food drops for Afghan civilians.

The United States, the proposed resolution continues, "should contribute to efforts by the international community to provide long-term, sustainable reconstruction and development assistance for the people of Afghanistan, including efforts to protect the basic human rights of women and children."

The United States is the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, totaling more than $185,000,000 in fiscal year 2001. President Bush has also announced a $320,000,000 initiative to respond to the humanitarian needs in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in neighboring countries.

Following is the text of Senate Resolution 172 from the Congressional Record:

(begin text)

S. RES. 172

Expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the urgent need to provide emergency humanitarian assistance and development assistance to civilians in Afghanistan, including Afghan refugees in surrounding countries.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

October 18, 2001

Mr. WELLSTONE submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations

RESOLUTION

Expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the urgent need to provide emergency humanitarian assistance and development assistance to civilians in Afghanistan, including Afghan refugees in surrounding countries.

Whereas, well before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Afghanistan was the site of the greatest crisis of hunger and displacement in the world;

Whereas, after more than 20 years of conflict, 3 years of severe drought, and the repressive policies of the Taliban regime, 4,000,000 Afghans had sought refuge in neighboring countries, and Afghan women have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, and one in four children dies before the child's fifth birthday;

Whereas the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 1,500,000 additional Afghans could seek to flee the country in coming months due to the ongoing military conflict;

Whereas all 6 countries neighboring Afghanistan have closed their borders to refugees both on security grounds and citing an inability to economically provide for more refugees, and thousands have been trapped at borders with no food, shelter, water, or medical care;

Whereas 7,500,000 people inside Afghanistan face critical food shortages or risk starvation by winter's end, and are partially or fully dependent on outside assistance for survival, and of these people, 70 percent are women and children;

Whereas the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), which distributes most of the food within Afghanistan, estimates that food stocks in the country are critically short, and WFP overland food shipments inside and outside the border of Afghanistan have been disrupted due to security concerns over United States military strikes;

Whereas airdrops of food by the United States military cannot by itself meet the enormous humanitarian needs of the Afghan people, and cannot replace the most effective delivery method of overland truck convoys of food, nor can it replace access to affected populations by humanitarian agencies;

Whereas the President has announced a $320,000,000 initiative to respond to the humanitarian needs in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in neighboring countries, and much more international assistance is clearly needed; and

Whereas the United States is the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, totaling more than $185,000,000 in fiscal year 2001: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved,

SECTION 1. SENSE OF THE SENATE ON HUMANITARIAN AND DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE FOR THE PEOPLE OF AFGHANISTAN.

It is the sense of the Senate that--

(1) Afghanistan's neighbors should reopen their borders to allow for the safe passage of refugees, and the international community must be prepared to contribute to the economic costs incurred by the flight of desperate Afghan civilians;

(2) as the United States engages in military action in Afghanistan, it must work to deliver assistance, particularly through overland truck convoys, and safe humanitarian access to affected populations, in partnership with humanitarian agencies in quantities sufficient to alleviate a large scale humanitarian catastrophe; and

(3) the United States should contribute to efforts by the international community to provide long-term, sustainable reconstruction and development assistance for the people of Afghanistan, including efforts to protect the basic human rights of women and children.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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