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Humanitarian Effort Special Order

October 9, 2001

Humanitarian Effort Special Order 10/09/01

Mr. Speaker,

Medecin Sans Frontieres, the 1999 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has today accused the United States of conducting nothing more than cynical military propaganda when we describe our operations in Afghanistan as ``humanitarian.''

The tragic truth is, they are right. The Bush administration's celebrations concerning the U.S. Air Force drops of food packages, totalling 75,000 food ration packages over the 2 days of Sunday and Monday, are not deserved. Medicine Sans Frontieres accuses us of little more than window dressing, seeking to divert public attention from a scandalous humanitarian disaster that could soon rival the Rwandan/Congolese catastrophe of 1994 and 1995.

Before the September 11 crisis, the U.N. World Food Program estimated that there were 2 million civilians in Afghanistan totally dependent on foreign food aid. The World Food Program was trucking in 500 tons a day, or enough to feed only 1 million people. So just 4 weeks ago, each day that went by, some 1 million Afghan men, women, and children were without food.

But now the situation is much worse. Our military operations have started, and the number dependent on food aid has grown rapidly while international food distribution has actually fallen to almost nothing. The BBC reports today that UNICEF believes that the number of Afghans in need has now grown to 5.5 million people, of which an estimated 70 percent are women and children.

Mr. Speaker, that staggering number of people, 5.5 million, easily exceeds if not even doubles the population of some of the largest cities in our own country. Can we imagine how horrified we would be, and how we would, as a nation, react if the entire population of cities such as Dallas or San Diego or San Francisco or Detroit were starving to death?

Mr. Speaker, that is the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe now confronting Afghanistan. These 5.5 million people desperately require about 2,750 tons of food aid each day, based on World Food Program estimates of 500 tons per million people per day. And this says nothing about the medical needs of these people.

Clearly, our two airdrops of 37,000 ration packages, though well-intentioned and bravely carried out by U.S. Air Force air crews, are not nearly enough to prevent a humanitarian disaster. Maybe, as alleged by Medecin Sans Frontieres, it does help soothe our collective conscience, but it does little more.

The Heritage Foundation has called Afghanistan the worst U.S. foreign policy failure of all time, and I have visited the Afghan refugees in their camp.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, the U.S. Government should be promoting democracy in Afghanistan. Bobby Kennedy had the following to say:

``Can we ordain ourselves the awful majesty of God, to decide what cities and villages are to be destroyed; who will live and who will die; who will join refugees wandering in the desert of our own creation?''

Although Bobby Kennedy was referring to our involvement in Vietnam, his words apply to our involvement in Afghanistan. The United States and the world community must do more for the people of Afghanistan. Mr. Speaker, the clock is ticking for 5.5 million innocent people.


Congresswoman McKinney - One Minute 10/10/01- War

Mr Speaker:

I was utterly speechless to read a news reports from the San Deigo Times dated September 29th that an unnamed Pentagon source had revealed that Secretary Rumsfeld was considering enacting an emergency provision to suspend the payment of $100 a day to US service men and women who had been deployed more than 400 days in 2 years. A pay provision mandated by this Congress and one which this Congress has already refused to revoke.

Once again, we are sending our young men and women into combat. They fly, fuel, arm, and operate ships and aircraft worth billions of dollars and most of all they risk their own lives and the lives of others daily. Yet, despite all that, the Secretary of Defense apparently doesn't deem it appropriate to pay them what they are worth. But we can give billions of dollars to the airlines, but not to young men and women in our military.

Sadly, our nation does not have a good record with respect to the treatment of its men and women in the military. Many have returned from Vietnam poisoned by Agent Orange, many Vietnam veterans now live on our nation's streets as beggars. And tens of thousands more young US service men and women returned from the Gulf War conflict afflicted with Gulf War Syndrome.

The thanks of a grateful nation to our young men and women fighting this war should be in the form of a full and fair salary, good and effective medical care, and for those who make the sacrifice, the full knowledge that their families will be taken care of by this government.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


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