SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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THE TSUNAMI TRAGEDY: HOW THE U.S. IS RESPONDING AND PROVIDING RELIEF
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
JANUARY 26, 2005
Serial No. 1097
Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.house.gov/internationalrelations
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
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HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman
JAMES A. LEACH, Iowa
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey,
DAN BURTON, Indiana
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
PETER T. KING, New York
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
JOHN M. McHUGH, New York
THOMAS G. TANCREDO, Colorado
RON PAUL, Texas
DARRELL ISSA, California
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
JO ANN DAVIS, Virginia
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
JERRY WELLER, Illinois
MIKE PENCE, Indiana
THADDEUS G. McCOTTER, Michigan
KATHERINE HARRIS, Florida
JOE WILSON, South Carolina
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
CONNIE MACK, Florida
JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska
MICHAEL McCAUL, Texas
TED POE, Texas
TOM LANTOS, California
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
BRAD SHERMAN, California
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
BARBARA LEE, California
JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
SHELLEY BERKLEY, Nevada
GRACE F. NAPOLITANO, California
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
DIANE E. WATSON, California
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCADAM SMITH, Washington
BETTY McCOLLUM, Minnesota
BEN CHANDLER, Kentucky
DENNIS A. CARDOZA, California
THOMAS E. MOONEY, SR., Staff Director/General Counsel
ROBERT R. KING, Democratic Staff Director
MATTHEW MCLEAN, Professional Staff Member
JEAN CARROLL, Staff Associate
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable James A. Leach, A Representative in Congress from the State of Iowa
The Honorable Earl Blumenauer, a Representative in Congress from the State of Oregon
The Honorable Andrew S. Natsios, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development
The Honorable Alan P. Larson, Under Secretary for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State
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The Honorable Peter W. Rodman, Assistant Secretary, International Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense
Brigadier General John Allen, Principal Director for Asian and Pacific Affairs, International Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense
Mr. Peter Bell, President, CARE-USA
Dr. Richard Brennan, Director of Health Programs, International Rescue Committee
Ms. Afshan Khan, Deputy Director of Emergency Operations, United States Fund for UNICEF, Public Policy and Advocacy
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
The Honorable Henry J. Hyde, a Representative in Congress from the State of Illinois, and Chairman, Committee on International Relations: Prepared statement
The Honorable Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, a Representative in Congress from American Samoa: Prepared statement
The Honorable Christopher H. Smith, a Representative in Congress from the State of New Jersey and Vice Chairman, Committee on International Relations: Prepared statement
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The Honorable James A. Leach, a Representative in Congress from the State of Iowa: Prepared statement
The Honorable Earl Blumenauer: Prepared statement
The Honorable Andrew S. Natsios: Prepared statement
The Honorable Alan P. Larson: Prepared statement
The Honorable Tom Lantos, a Representative in Congress from the State of California: Prepared statement
Ms. Krista Riddley, Deputy Director of Policy, Oxfam America: Prepared statement
Mr. Peter Bell: Prepared statement
Dr. Richard Brennan: Prepared statement
Ms. Afshan Khan: Prepared statement
The Honorable Dan Burton, a Representative in Congress from the State of Indiana: Prepared statement
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The Honorable Katherine Harris, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida: Prepared statement
The Honorable Andrew S. Natsios
Responses to questions submitted for the record by the Honorable Henry J. Hyde
Responses to questions submitted for the record by the Honorable Earl Blumenauer, a Representative in Congress from the State of Oregon
Letter requesting information from the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary, U.S. Department of Defense, by the Honorable Henry J. Hyde
THE TSUNAMI TRAGEDY: HOW THE U.S. IS RESPONDING AND PROVIDING RELIEF
THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 2005
House of Representatives,
Committee on International Relations,
The Committee met, pursuant to call, at 1:40, p.m., in room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Henry J. Hyde (Chairman of the Committee) presiding.
Chairman HYDE. The Committee will come to order. We have some new Members of the Committee; however, there are others who could not be present and we shall more formally introduce them at our next meeting.
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Well, good afternoon, and welcome to the briefing of the Committee on International Relations. On December 26th, a massive earthquake off the western coast of Indonesia launched a wall of water in all directions. The geography of the destruction is staggering, from the near epicenter of Indonesia to Sri Lanka and India, to Thailand and Malaysia, to the Island of Maldives to the Seychelles and across the expanse of the Indian Ocean to the eastern coast of Africa.
The scale of human loss is devastating. We have all experienced the shock of seeing the video footage of the rush of ocean with bodies and debris flowing down the streets of coastal villages or of hearing accounts of waves pulling children from the desperate grasp of their parents. The latest numbers indicate that over 200,000 people have been reported dead, with over 26,000 missing and over 1 million displaced or otherwise in need.
The suddenness and the magnitude of this disaster should remind all of us of the fragility of human life in the face of nature's awesome power. The tremendous response from around the world to this crisis, however, should also remind us of the compassion and the humanity of those who rushed to help those in great need.
My fear is that the world's attention will soon shift to some other big news item, some other catastrophe, and with it the window of compassion and assistance will grow smaller. We must understand that many, many needs will remain when the cameras are turned off. My hope is that our commitment and dedication will remain steadfast, and we will maintain our focus on the difficult and arduous task of helping victims reconstruct their lives and their livelihoods.
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The Committee commends President Bush with a pledge of $350 million in emergency aid, and commends the urgent and ongoing efforts of U.S. relief workers on the ground. Of this amount, USAID and other civilian agencies have already sent over $100 million in emergency supplies and services. I should emphasize that this pledge from the U.S. is in addition to the costs of the extraordinary relief efforts of our military. Indeed, the logistics, air lift and other supplies provided by the Department of Defense have proven invaluable. The Committee would be very interested to know funding levels of activities associated with our military.
Similarly, the Committee would also like to commend the American people for their outpouring of private donations to U.S. and international aid organizations. We would be interested to learn from our witnesses about any data they might have regarding the amount of private relief contributions as well.
Today, the Committee will focus on two key issues. First, we seek a closer analysis of the speed and effectiveness of the United States' response since December 26. Second, we seek to understand the key challenges in the months ahead for the region most heavily affected by the disaster and the plans of the Administration to help address these challenges, such as ongoing health complications, long-term economic difficulties, political instability, orphaned children and the threat of human trafficking.
Last month, I announced my intention to introduce legislation to support an American response to the tsunami crisis. In the days ahead, I will circulate the proposed legislation and will welcome my colleagues in working together with me on this important bill.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I look forward to today's hearing, and now recognize my friend and colleague, the distinguished gentleman from American Samoa, Eni Faleomavaega.
I might mention, Mr. Lantos is in Poland today with a delegation memorializing Auschwitz, so he is not here but he is well represented.
[The prepared statement of Chairman Hyde follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE HENRY J. HYDE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, AND CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
The Committee will come to order.
Good morning and welcome to today's briefing of the Committee on International Relations.
On December 26th, a massive earthquake off the western coast of Indonesia launched a wall of water in all directions. The geography of the destruction is staggering: from the near-epicenter of Indonesia, to Sri Lanka and India, to Thailand and Malaysia, to the islands of Maldives and the Seychelles, and across the expanse of the Indian Ocean to the eastern coast of Africa.
The scale of human loss is devastating. We have all experienced the shock of seeing the video footage of the rush of ocean, with bodies and debris flowing down the streets of coastal villages, or of hearing accounts of waves pulling children from the desperate grasp of their parents. The latest numbers indicate that over 162,000 people have been reported dead, with over 26,000 missing, and over one million displaced or otherwise in need.
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The suddenness and magnitude of this disaster should remind all of us of the fragility of human life in the face of Nature's awesome power. The tremendous response from around the world to this crisis, however, should also remind us of the compassion of humanity when we help those in great need.
My fear is that the world's attention will soon shift to some other big news item, and with it, the window of compassion and assistance will grow smaller. We must understand that many, many needs will remain when the cameras are turned off. My hope is that our commitment and dedication will remain steadfast, and we will maintain our focus on the difficult and arduous task of helping victims reconstruct their lives and their livelihoods.
The Committee commends President Bush for the pledge of $350 million in emergency aid and commends the urgent and ongoing efforts of U.S. relief workers on the ground. Of this amount, USAID and other civilian agencies have already sent over $100 million in emergency supplies and services.
I should emphasize that this pledge from the United States is in addition to the costs of the extraordinary relief efforts of our military. Indeed, the logistics, air lift, and other supplies provided by the Department of Defense have proven invaluable. The Committee would be very interested to know funding levels of activities associated with our military.
Similarly, the Committee would also like to commend the American people for their outpouring of private donations to U.S. and international aid organizations. We would be interested to learn from our witnesses about any data they might have regarding the amount of private relief contributions, as well.
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Today, the Committee will focus on two key issues. First, we seek a closer analysis of the speed and effectiveness of the United States response since December 26th. Second, we seek to understand the key challenges in the months ahead for the regions most heavily affected by the disaster, and the plans of the Administration to help address these challengessuch as, ongoing health complications; long-term economic difficulties; political instability (or possible reconciliation); orphaned children; and the threat of human trafficking.
Late last month, I announced my intention to introduce legislation to support an American response to the Tsunami crisis. In the days ahead, I will circulate the proposed legislation, and I welcome my colleagues in working together with me on this important bill.
I look forward to today's hearing, and I now recognize my friend and colleague, the distinguished gentleman from American Samoa, Eni Faleomavaega.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, as you may know, I was invited by my good friend and esteemed colleague, the Chairman of our Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Leach from Iowa, to visit South Asia and observe firsthand the devastation caused when a magnitude of 9.0 undersea earthquakes unleashed a series of tsunamis or tidal waves which left 160,000 people dead and more than 5 million homeless.
According to a leading Indian seismologist, it is estimated that the energy released from the tsunami itself was 350 times more powerful than the atomic bomb that was dropped in Hiroshima in 1945. And the earthquake itself, which caused the tsunami, had the power of some 32,000 hydrogen bombs.
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With some sense of perspective, Mr. Chairman, the atomic bomb that we dropped in Hiroshima killed about 90,000 people with 10 kilotons. The hydrogen bomb that we exploded in 1954 in the Marshall Islands was equivalent to 15 megatons, which is in actuality 1,000 times more powerful than the bomb that we dropped in Hiroshima.
Even earlier, this is the same region, Mr. Chairman, where an island known as Krakatoa, experienced an earthquake and a volcanic eruption that took place, I think, in the 1700s to 1800s that produced tsunamis or tidal waves in excess of 130 feet in height.
Mr. Chairman, it is now estimated that more than 1.5 million children are sick, starving, or orphaned as a result of the tsunami tragedy, and my heart goes out to the victims and their families. Our good friend and former colleague in the Committee, Senator Sam Brownback, and I were in Sri Lanka during the course of our visit, and we spent 2 hours flying over the region in the helicopter to assess the damages, especially in Sri Lanka.
In Sri Lanka, more than 30,000 people are dead, and as a result of this tragedy, over 115,000 are dead in Indonesia; 10,000 dead in India; and over 5,300 dead in Thailand, making this the deadliest tsunami ever in history. To respond to this devastation, the U.S. Government and our President have pledged $350 million in humanitarian and recovery assistance. Thus far, over $112 million has been committed, which excludes Department of Defense assistance, and I think you noted quite well the tremendous assistance that our military has also given in addressing the needs of this tragedy.
It is my understanding that, as of January of this month, more than 11,000 members of the U.S. Armed Services are involved in relief efforts in the affected region. The United States military has delivered over 5 million pounds of relief supplies including food and water to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and other affected nations. Yet so much needs to be done.
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I certainly commend the Governments of Thailand and India for recently announcing that they would provide relief and rehabilitation packages, including loans and subsidies for those affected within their borders. Only 2 weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with India's home minister and delegates from USINPAC, an Indian-American organization committed to assisting in relief efforts. And I am pleased by the response of India and the more than 27,000 members of the Indian-American community, the members of the USINPAC, that are providing assistance.
Mr. Chairman, as someone whose roots are from the Asia Pacific region, and like my friends in India and other parts of South Asia, my constituents are also subject to the will of nature. At any time, my people could also be subjected to the devastation caused by the recent tsunamis, which are more common in the Pacific because of its earthquake-prone perimeter. In 1948, 2 years after a tsunami killed more than 150 people in Hawaii, a Pacific Tsunami Warning Center was established in member states including Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, and the major Pacific Rim nations in North America, Asia, and South America. But no such warning system exists in the Indian Ocean or for the U.S. insular areas. This is why I intend to support legislation for the establishment of an early warning system in the Indian Ocean and why I also intend to reintroduce legislation that I introduced 3 years ago to establish an early warning system for United States insular areas as well as those in Micronesia.
Had an early warning system been in place in South Asia, so many lives could have been saved, and this is why I believe we must make the establishment of an early warning system one of our top priorities in South Asia and among the areas in Micronesia and the United States insular areas.
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Mr. Chairman, as a Pacific Islander and as one caught in the outskirts of a tidal wave, I personally witnessed the characteristics of what a tidal wave looks like as I wasin 1984in an area that was elevated about 300 feet above sea level; and not a very pretty picture when you see that, for some 3,000 to 4,000 yards, the ocean or the sea is completely sucked out. You see all the fish playing there on the reefs, and you think this is manna from heaven and we should go in there and collect the fish, not knowing that minutes later the waves come in.
And the thing that makes tidal waves so particularly damaging is the fact that it is not like a regular wave that goes in and out. It turns. It churns. It has such a force within itself that it tends to hold anybody underwateralmost like 1,000 pounds are upon you when you are under there, under the influence of a tidal wave. I just want to share that with my colleagues, having personally seen and watched what a tidal wave does to the communities.
I certainly want to commend my own local community, our rotary international, our local leaders for making donations to this tragedy. It is also my understanding that the private-sector community throughout our country has provided over $360 million in assistance.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I commend you and our Ranking Member, Mr. Lantos, for your leadership in holding this hearing, and the U.S. for responding by providing for the kind of relief that is sorely needed. As Members of the Senate and House Committees on Foreign Relations and International Relations will be primarily responsible for shaping the aid package that will go to assist the areas hit by the tsunami, I am hopeful that any legislation drafted will include a long-term commitment on the part of the United States to continue reconstruction efforts even after media interests fade. I am also hopeful that we will use this opportunity to renew our commitment to South Asia and improve our image abroad. More than anything else, Mr. Chairman, a tsunami warning system throughout the Pacific and other regions of the world should be our highest priority as a preventive measure.
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As we work toward these goals, Mr. Chairman, it is my sincere hope that we will also be cautious in dealing with Indonesia. For years, the United States has restricted foreign military financing for Indonesia, and rightfully so, given the horrendous human rights record of the Indonesian military. From my own experience, it is a fact that some 200,000 East Timorese, women and children, were murdered and tortured by the Indonesian military. The same thing also happened to some 100,000 women and children among the West Papua New Guineatortured and murdered by the Indonesian military. We must not let go of this issue and the problems that we are facing in this area.
Even in the aftermath of the devastation caused by the recent tsunami, the media has reported that the Indonesian military has withheld food and other humanitarian assistance from those who live in the Aceh region believed to be pro-independents. The United States cannot and must not turn a blind eye to these abusers of Indonesian repression, and the people of Aceh and West Papua New Guinea. It is my sincere hope that Congress and the Administration will address these issues, and I look forward to hearing from our good Chairman, our good friend from Oregon, and other witnesses who will testify in this Committee this afternoon.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Faleomavaega follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM AMERICAN SAMOA
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As you may know, I was invited by my good friend and esteemed colleague, Chairman James Leach of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, to visit South Asia and observe first-hand the devastation caused when a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake unleashed a series of tsunamis which left over 160,000 people dead and more than 5 million homeless.
According to a leading Indian seismologist, it is estimated that the energy released from the tsunami itself was 350 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 and the earthquake which caused the tsunami had the power of 32,000 hydrogen bombs. It is now estimated that more than 1.5 million children are sick, starving or orphaned as a result of the tsunami tragedy and my heart goes out to the victims and their families.
Senator Sam Brownback was in Sri Lanka during the course of our visit and the Senator and I spent two hours flying over the region in a helicopter to assess the damage. In Sri Lanka, more than 30,000 people are dead as a result of this tragedy. Over 115,000 are dead in Indonesia, 10,000 in India, over 5,300 in Thailand making this the deadliest tsunami on record.
To respond to this devastation, the U.S. government has pledged $350 million in humanitarian and recovery assistance. Thus far, over $112 million has been committed which excludes Department of Defense assistance. It is my understanding that as of January 21, 2005 more than 11,000 members of the U.S. Armed Services are involved in relief efforts in the affected region. The U.S. military has delivered over 5 million lbs of relief supplies, including food and water, to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other affected nations.
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Yet so much more needs to be done. I commend the Governments of Thailand and India for recently announcing that they would provide relief and rehabilitation packages, including loans and subsidies, for those affected within their borders. Only two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with India's Home Minister and delegates from USINPAC, an Indian American organization committed to assisting in relief efforts and I am pleased by the response of India and the more than 27,000 Indian Americans associated with USINPAC.
I, too, am from the Asia Pacific region and, like my friends in India and other parts of South Asia, my constituents are also subject to the will of nature. As you may know, American Samoa lies 2,300 miles southwest of Hawaii, covers a land area of 76 square miles, and has a population of less than 65,000. At any time, my people could also be subjected to the devastation caused by the recent tsunamis which are more common in the Pacific because of its earthquake-prone perimeter.
In 1948, two years after a tsunami killed more than 150 people in Hawaii, a Pacific Tsunami Warning system was established. Members States include Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, major Pacific Rim nations in North America, Asia and South America but no such warning system exists in the Indian Ocean or for U.S. insular areas.
This why I intend to support legislation for the establishment of an early warning system in the Indian Ocean and why I also intend to re-introduce legislation that I introduced in 2002 to establish early warning systems for United States insular areas, including American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. Had an early warning system been in place for South Asia, so many lives could have been saved and this is why I believe we must make the establishment of an early warning system one of our top priorities for South Asia and U.S. insular areas.
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As a Pacific Islander, I also wish to say that I am deeply moved by the efforts of American Samoa to provide assistance and relief to our brothers and sisters in South Asia. I commend our local leaders and I thank the people of American Samoa for supporting relief efforts. I also thank the rest of America for its generosity. It is my understanding that U.S. private-sector contributions have topped over $360 million.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I commend you and Ranking Member Lantos for your leadership in holding this hearing on how the U.S. is responding and providing relief. As Members of the Senate and House Committees on Foreign and International Relations will be primarily responsible for shaping the aid package which will go to assist the areas hit by the tsunami, I am hopeful that any legislation drafted will include a long-term commitment on the part of the U.S. to continue reconstruction efforts even after media interest fades. I am also hopeful that we will use this opportunity to renew our commitment to South Asia and improve our image abroad.
As we work towards these goals, it is my sincere hope that we will also be cautious in dealing with Indonesia. For years, the U.S. has restricted foreign military financing for Indonesia and rightfully so given the horrendous human rights record of the Indonesian military. Even in the aftermath of the devastation caused by the recent tsunami, the media has reported that the Indonesian military has withheld food and other humanitarian assistance from those believed to be pro-independent. The U.S. cannot and must not turn a blind eye to these abuses or to Indonesia's repression of the people of Aceh and West Papua and it is my sincere hope that Congress and the Administration will address these issues.
At this time, I welcome our witnesses and look forward to their comments.
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Chairman HYDE. Thank you, sir.
All Members may place their statements in the record so we may hear from our extensive panels of witnesses, with the exception of Mr. Smith who was on the trip with Mr. Leach, and who visited the affected area. The Chair will recognize him for a statement.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And I would ask that my full statement, rather lengthy, be placed in the record.
But just to make a few very brief observations. First of all, to thank our very distinguished Chairman, Chairman Leach, who did an extraordinary job throughout the entirety of the trip in pressing the right questions, in putting together what I thought was an outstanding set of visits in Sri Lanka, in Phuket, and of course in Aceh. He did a tremendous job and, I think, served our Committee and our Congress so admirably.
And it was a bipartisan group. It was made up of disparate Members with various expertise, and all of that was brought together in a very cohesive way. So I want to very publicly and very loudly thank him for the tremendous job he did.
I also think it bears stating over and over again how important our military was in mitigating the disaster that was underwayin a way reminiscent of providing comfort when the Iraqis and the Kurds who made their way to the Turkish border were put at grave risk of dying as the NGOs and AID and the rest of the apparatus were mustering. The military got on the ground and, using its logistical air lift and all the other capabilities they possess and great compassion, were able to save thousands of lives from a certain death. So the men and women on the Abraham Lincoln and all the other men and women of our military deserve very high credit.
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Our Embassies, as we saw, and Chairman Leach I am sure will speak to it, our Ambassadors, our USAID representatives and everyone else are working 24/7 to try to help alleviate this unbelievable suffering. We were struck by the mental anguish that we met eyeball to eyeball, with victims who had lost 4, 5, 6, as many as 10 members of their family or more. I have never seenand I have been to refugee camps, in my 25 years as a Member of Congress, and in war torn areasso much trauma that was so thinly disguised by the pleasant demeanor on so many people's faces, and right below the surface was that they are suffering. And their mental anguish will take a long time to repair.
On child trafficking, I am glad that the international communityand the U.S. deserves high credit and UNICEF has taken the lead in ensuring that the orphans are not exploited by the purveyors of pedophilia rings and human traffickers. And later on or early next week, I am going to be introducing another comprehensive trafficking bill that will include provisions to prevent the development of trafficking networks in areas that have been malaffected or affected by conflict or by natural disaster.
And, again, I think we all walked away, Mr. Chairman, with a profound sense that one of the most important tools we have going forward is that tool called microcredit. Those small, very well-positioned loans to individuals can make all the difference in the world in the rebuilding process. And my hope isand we will get to this with USAID and the State Departmentthat we do not rob Peter to pay Paul, that we do not take existing microcredit lending or food and other important humanitarian efforts away from other programs in Africa, Latin America, or anywhere else, and that this be seen as a new opportunity to help people to rebuild their lives. But again, Chairman Leach and Mr. Blumenauer, you did a tremendous job. It was an honor to be with you. But thank you for your leadership. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Smith of New Jersey follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY AND VICE CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Tomorrow will mark four weeks since the tsunamis struck and radically altered the lives of hundreds of thousands of people on the shores of the Indian Ocean. One struggles to capture in words the devastation wrought by the waves. We become engrossed in other matters demanding our immediate attention. Compassion fatigue is as real for the thousands of exhausted aid workers as it is for donors the world over. Of course, compassion fatigue on anyone's part is a luxury that the victims can ill afford. They are going to need our help for several months and years.
However, the magnitude of this tragedy demands that we set aside compassion fatigue for a sustained response of our wills. As you know, I had the privilege of traveling to the region and seeing first-hand the effects of the disaster and the relief efforts. I want to thank Chairman Leach for his superb leadership throughout the trip. And I must say, Mr. Chairman, my heart was encouraged to see the tireless efforts of thousands of dedicated Americans involved in responding to this disaster. In particular, the efforts of our military have been outstanding. We have over 11,600 service members of our armed forces who are providing relief support, and they have to-date delivered over 5.3 million pounds of food, water and medical supplies. Like Operation Provide Comfort a decade ago in Iraq, this first-line of defense has proved indispensable in the fight to prevent even more deaths through water-borne diseases and malnutrition.
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Embassies and AID missions in the region are also working flat-out to provide basic medical care, set up resettlement camps, reunite family members, and identify and provide for the needs of orphaned children. Over the ensuing months, they and NGOs with years of experience in disaster relief, such as the International Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services, and World Vision, will remain engaged to rebuild community water and sanitation systems, restart schools, and help those who have lost their livelihoods start anew.
After observing the international and private relief efforts, including those of the United States, I can say they are definitely having a measurable and positive impact. In a disaster such as this, where so much infrastructure was completely destroyed, no relief effort will proceed without flaws. But the critical thing is that our government's provision of rapid funding has had life-saving effects. Physically, many of the victims have been stabilized, and many now have temporary shelter. In places like Phuket, there has not been a large outbreak of diseases like typhoid, which was a big fear. People in badly flooded areas are especially prone to such water-borne diseases, but because of the aid swooping in, we have largely avoided what could easily have been a second major disaster.
One silver lining is that the disaster is opening up an opportunity for peacemaking and reconciliation between the Indonesian government and indigenous separatist groups such as the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Everywhere I went, I urged that both sides put aside their differences to cooperate on humanitarian relief. One side has been greatly weakened by this tragedy; now is the time for the Indonesian government and military to act magnanimously. An end to the conflict will bring enormous benefits to all.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition, I saw evidence on the ground in several of the affected countries that American humanitarian assistance has fostered positive goodwill for the generosity of Americans by the affected peoples. There is a wellspring of support and affection for America that has been generated by our response. This enhanced public image will eventually help the United States to fight terrorism in the region. It is thus doubly important that in order to sustain these diplomatic benefits, we take steps to avoid compassion fatigue, and make sure we meet our obligation to help these people rebuild their lives over the long-term.
On the issue of mental trauma, one of the immense challenges inherent in recovering from a disaster of this magnitude is overcoming the mental anguish that plagues the survivors. The suffering and devastation I observed could only be compared to what the United States experienced during the September 11th attacks. I saw thousands upon thousands of photographs and missing persons fliers attached to walls in Phuket, Thailand, so reminiscent of the walls in New York City in 2001. There it was again. It was heartbreaking beyond words. I had seen the photos of these walls plastered with pleas for help in finding missing loved ones, but after seeing it in person, there is nothing you can do to emotionally prepare for it. Just like the United States was traumatized by September 11th for a long time, so these people also have an emotional numbness that you could immediately sense. The enormity of it is difficult to comprehend. Some of the areas of Banda Aceh, in Indonesia, looked like scenes out of Hiroshima. The devastation just went on and on, seemingly without end.
We cannot undo the tragedy, but we can and must stand with the survivors, helping meet their physical needs and letting them know their lives still have hope and meaning. For example, according to the U.N.'s World Food Program (WFP), sea conditions off the west coast of Aceh will likely worsen from mid-February to July, due to the phenomenon known as ''the big swell.'' Therefore, the relief community is making plans now to pre-position food stocks, because during this time period large ships cannot land in many areas and small boats will be unable to navigate the rough waters.
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On the issue of child trafficking, many have expressed concern about the safety of those orphaned by the tsunamis. And while we are still determining how many children are at risk, the good news is that the highlighting of the threat seems to have prevented the wholesale disappearance of children being sold for exploitation to sex trafficking rings. UNICEF is taking the lead in documenting how many children have been orphaned, and governments have acted swiftly to prevent unauthorized so-called ''adoptions'' by those whose intentions are evil. However, we must not let down our guard. Our experience shows that the human trafficking scourge emerges when economies are broken and rule of law is weakthe exact conditions which now exist in the region and which are typical of post-natural disaster environments.
To address this problem, I will introduce anti-trafficking legislation next week that includes provisions to prevent the development of trafficking networks in post-conflict situations. The provision, if approved, will require the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense to incorporate anti-trafficking and protection measures for vulnerable populations, particularly women and children, into their post-conflict and post-natural disaster humanitarian aid and program development activities.
Other key issues I plan to pursue are: (1) making sure there is adequate long-term funding sources in place so that rebuilding efforts do not sputter and die out when public interest in the disaster fades; (2) working to facilitate an early warning system in the region so future generations will have more time to evacuate to higher ground; (3) expanding and reforming U.S. microcredit and microloan programs to help poor families rebuild local businesses; and (4) advocating for targeted debt relief measures so that foreign government budgets focus on rebuilding, not servicing old debts.
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On the issue of microcredit, I authored new legislation which was signed by the President in December. Over $200 million worldwide has been made available for these important poverty alleviation programs. However, in this post-tsunami world, I am concerned that we are robbing Peter to pay Paul. We must ensure that accounts funding other vital food aid and other development assistance programs are not being raided to address this emergency. That only creates new victims. Over the long term, there is no more effective aid we can provide than to assist men and women to regain their livelihoods. Helping a fisherman with a $200 or $300 loan so he can get his boat fixed, go back out to sea, and employ two or three people is well worth the taxpayer investment, because the return will be enormous.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, the United States has been richly blessed with human and material abundance, and with this blessing comes responsibility to help those less fortunate. We must be wise and also be generous. I look forward to working with you and with members of this Committee to swiftly bring to the House floor legislation to address these critical needs.
Chairman HYDE. I would like to welcome Congressman Jim Leach who has represented Iowa's Second District since 1976. He is Chairman of this Committee's Asia and Pacific Subcommittee. He is also the Chairman Emeritus of the Committee on Banking and Financial Services. He is also a former Foreign Service officer recently returned from a trip to the region where he witnessed firsthand the destruction of the tsunami.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer has devoted his entire career to public service and has represented Oregon's Third Congressional District since 1996. He served on this Committee's Asia and Pacific Subcommittee and was part of the congressional delegation to the tsunami-affected region. He is a strong and creative voice both at home and abroad for the environment, sustainable development, and economic opportunity.
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Mr. Leach, we are pleased to hear from you.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JAMES A. LEACH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IOWA
Mr. LEACH. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for holding this hearing and for your leadership in crafting a congressional response to this dramatic event.
Mr. Chairman, in the wake of what we now understand to be one of the most traumatic natural disasters in the past several centuries, I was asked to lead a congressional delegation to countries impacted by the tsunami and make recommendations on appropriate congressional responses. Joining me on the trip were Senators Sam Brownback and John Corzine and a number of House Members, including Mr. Smith, Mr. Faleomavaega, Ms. Watson, Mr. Blumenauer, and Mr. Flake, from this Committee.
During our compressed schedule, we met with heads of foreign governments and Armed Forces, U.N. and international aid agency officials, NGO representatives, U.S. diplomats, and military personnel and survivors of the tsunami. Before making more general observations, allow me to describe briefly some of the circumstances we encountered, illustrated by a few photographs that should appear on the video monitors to the sides.
Different areas experienced the disaster differently, but in every region, the areas we visited, the damage defied comprehension. Hit hardest by the tsunami was Aceh, Indonesia, on the northern tip of Sumatra. Unlike certain areas in Thailand and Sri Lanka that were mounted with rubble, vast stretches of the Acehnise coast were wiped nearly clean. Entire towns had been seemingly swallowed by the sea, leaving only bare foundations where numerous homes and buildings had once stood. In one area, the local mosque was the only structure still standing. Engineers suggest the mosque survived because of its location and construction. Residents were convinced that more eschatological factors were in play. In any regard, over 100,000 people died in Indonesia alone on that day.
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In addition to bearing the greatest loss of life, Aceh also posed the greatest logistical challenge to rescue and relief efforts as the destruction of its relatively limited transportation infrastructure left large portions completely isolated from the outside world.
Thailand suffered thousands of deaths, including the largest number of foreign casualties. During our visit to the Khao Lak beach areaa destination for vacationers from around the worldwe were surrounded by evidence of the deadly force of the waves believed to have topped out at over 65 feet. At one point, the surge swept a large police boat more than a mile inland. The damage was rendered even more poignant by the public bulletin boards filled with photos of still-missing family members and unidentified bodies. We were all impressed by the extent to which the local Thai population, which suffered such heavy losses, had assisted foreign survivors and begun to clear the rubble.
More than 30,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka. The vast majority of that island's coastline was affected by the tsunami; though the extensive damage tended to be highly localized along the shore, limited in most areas to several hundred yards inland. Thus, unlike in Aceh, most of the affected areas were in relative proximity to intact communities and transportation infrastructure which helped to facilitate aid and rescue efforts.
The juxtaposition of the geographically-limited damage with the massive human toll underscored the tragic cost that resulted from the lack of an early warning system. Perhaps the most affecting portion of our trip was our interaction with tsunami visitors at a relocation camp near Galle, Sri Lanka. There we met the remnants of families who had been left homeless. We spoke with mothers who had lost children and husbands, and met children whose parents had been killed by the waves that they described as sounding like the deafening roar of a jet plane.
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Although we were unable to view damaged sites in India, the briefings we received during our visit indicated the conditions there were of similar gravity.
There are precedents for natural disasters. There may, however, be no precedent for the size and scale of the international response to this one. In the upward spiral of donor pledges, we have viewed the rise of a kind of competitive compassion that must be considered a welcome development in international relations. It remains to be seen whether the paradigms and the goodwill developed in response to this natural disaster may also have utility in addressing man-made disasters and conflicts that afflict similarly large numbers of people around the world.
However, to some degree, the early focus on comparative pledges did not do justice to various national responses, particularly our own. The American people have reason to be deeply proud of our country's response. The unparalleled air lift and transport capabilities of the United States military were the backbone of much of the international humanitarian response throughout the region. To cite one example, the helicopter crews from the USS Abraham Lincoln were the sole lifeline to numerous isolated communities on Aceh, maintaining an exhausting operational tempo ferrying clean water and provisions that saved many lives and helped deter the spread of disease. I was inspired and gratified by the self-giving response of so many American servicemen and women, our aid workers, our professional diplomatic corps and the large numbers of Americans working for faith-based and other nongovernmental organizations in the region. These private and public servants, who had been working largely without sleep since the disaster, are a credit to our country.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to cite two discussions involving military personnel. The first was with Vice Admiral Douglas Crowder aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. Admiral Crowder noted that he had never seen more enthused, committed sailors and Marines even though they had never been precisely trained for this kind of mission. Knowing that those under his command lacked precise expertise for the tasks undertaken, he gave them a simple command: Do good; and then authorized them to develop techniques to fit the circumstance, i.e., to use individual initiative. I believe somewhere on a wall at the United States Naval Academy ought to be chiseled Admiral Crowder's command: Do good. Its simplicity implies the grandest of missions in the finest tradition of the United States Navy.
The second conversation was with a brigadier general with the United States Marine Corps. I told him my impression that the difference the U.S. military made in the wake of the tsunami reminded me of the confederate calvary officer, General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who is known to have argued that the key to all military strategy was getting there ''firstest with the mostest.'' He laughed, but said the more apt analogy might be that of Rommel, who noted that, ''Amateurs speak tactics; professionals, logistics.''
We think of our Armed Services principally being trained to be put in harm's way in a wartime setting, but one of the lessons of this tsunami is that no institution of the world is better prepared to assist in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster than our military. In the long run, civilian institutions must take over, but in the short run, the Armed Services have an important role to play.
Here, a note about faith-based efforts is in order. In Sri Lanka, our Ambassador informed me that he had just received a call from the Los Angeles Jewish Federation which had raised $10 million for relief assistance. Two days later, I met with a representative of the federation in New Delhi, and she noted that she was prepared to consider giving assistance for the rebuilding of schools, such as the one the Marines had cleared the rubble from in Galle, Sri Lanka. She also said her organization hoped to be able to work with the Sri Lankan Buddhist monastery which was serving as a relief station for refugees, and perhaps even with groups in Aceh, Indonesia, where Muslim political activism is so widespread.
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I cite this as one of many examples of American outreach to illustrate that America is more than government. We are a society of individuals who make private as well as public charitable commitments. It is the manner in which the public and private sectors interreact that characterize American governance.
And I do not mean to imply that the United States stands alone in relief efforts. Numerous countries, including some of those hardest hit by the tsunami, quickly made their own sacrificial commitments. I would particularly like to commend the cooperation and contributions of the Kingdom of Thailand whose air base at Utapao has served as an invaluable hub for the transport of essential relief materials throughout the affected area.
Our interlocutors in the region also noted with appreciation the prompt dispatch of humanitarian assistance by countries such as Singapore, Australia, Japan, India, Spain, and the Nordic countries, among others.
In addition, I would like to commend the work of various United States agencies, particularly in Sri Lanka, where they have taken the lead in providing assistance in Tamil-controlled parts of the country.
On the environmental front, it appears that the January 26 tragedy may have galvanized the political will necessary to implement a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean basin and, more broadly, warning systems for various natural disasters on a worldwide basis. The U.S. should play an active role in such endeavors, but I will leave it to my Democratic colleague, Mr. Blumenauer, to expand further on these issues, which are of longstanding concern to him.
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In conclusion, let me just simply stress that the tsunami of December 26 cannot be viewed through a national tragedy prism. The events represented a human tragedy affecting the world community. We share in the grief and recognize that tragedies of this nature demonstrate our human vulnerability and common fate. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Leach follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JAMES A. LEACH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IOWA, AND CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
Mr. Chairman, in the wake of what we now understand to be one of the most traumatic natural disasters of the past several centuries, I was asked to lead a Congressional delegation to countries impacted by the tsunami and make recommendations on appropriate Congressional responses. Joining me on the trip were Senators Sam Brownback and Jon Corzine, and a number of House Members, including Mr. Smith, Mr. Faleomavaega, Ms. Watson, Mr. Blumenauer, and Mr. Flake from this Committee.
During our compressed schedule, we met with heads of foreign governments and armed forces, UN and international aid agency officials, NGO representatives, U.S. diplomats and military personnel, and survivors of the tsunami.
Before making more general observations, allow me to describe briefly some of the circumstances we encountered, illustrated by a few photographs that should appear on the video monitors overhead.
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Different areas experienced the disaster differently. But in every region we visited, the damage defied comprehension.
Hit hardest by the tsunami was Aceh, Indonesia, on the northern tip of Sumatra. Unlike certain areas in Thailand and Sri Lanka that were mounded with rubble, vast stretches of the Acehnese coast were wiped nearly clean. Entire towns had been seemingly swallowed by the sea, leaving only bare foundations where numerous homes and buildings had once stood. In one area, the local Mosque was the only structure still standing. Engineers suggested the Mosque survived because of its location and construction; residents were convinced that more eschatological factors were in play. In any regard, over 100,000 people died in Indonesia alone on that day. In addition to bearing the greatest loss of life, Aceh also posed the greatest logistical challenge to rescue and relief efforts, as the destruction of its relatively limited transportation infrastructure left large portions completely isolated from the outside world.
Thailand suffered thousands of deaths, including the largest number of foreign casualties. During our visit to the Khao Lak beach areaa destination for vacationers from around the worldwe were surrounded by evidence of the deadly force of the waves, believed to have topped out at over 60 feet. At one point, the surge swept a large police boat more than a mile inland. The damage was rendered even more poignant by the public bulletin boards filled with photos of still-missing family members and unidentified bodies. We were all impressed by the extent to which the local Thai population, which suffered such heavy losses, had assisted foreign survivors and begun to clear the rubble.
More than 30,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka. The vast majority of that island's coastline was affected by the tsunami, though the extensive damage tended to be highly localized along the shore, limited in most areas to a few hundred yards inland. Thus, unlike in Aceh, most of the affected areas were in relative proximity to intact communities and transportation infrastructure, which helped to facilitate aid and rescue efforts. The juxtaposition of the geographically limited damage with the massive human toll underscored the tragic costs that resulted from the lack of an early warning system. Perhaps the most affecting portion of our trip was our interaction with tsunami survivors at a relocation camp near Galle. There we met the remnants of families who had been left homeless. We spoke with mothers who had lost children and husbands, and met children whose parents had been killed by waves that they described as sounding like the deafening roar of a jet plane.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Although we were unable to view damage sites in India, the briefings we received during our visit indicated that conditions there were of a similar gravity.
There are precedents for natural disasters. There may, however, be no precedent for the size and scale of the international response to this one. In the upward spiral of donor pledges, we have viewed the rise of a kind of competitive compassion that must be considered a welcome development in international relations. It remains to be seen whether the paradigms and the goodwill developed in response to this natural disaster may also have utility in addressing man-made disasters and conflicts that afflict similarly large numbers of people around the world. However, to some degree, the early focus on comparative pledges did not do justice to various national responses, particularly our own.
The American people have reason to be deeply proud of our country's response. The unparalleled airlift and transport capabilities of the U.S. military were the backbone of much of the international humanitarian response throughout the region. To cite one example, the helicopter crews from the USS Abraham Lincoln were the sole lifeline to numerous isolated communities in Aceh, maintaining an exhausting operational tempo ferrying clean water and provisions that saved many lives and helped deter the spread of disease.
I was inspired and gratified by the self-giving response of so many American servicemen and women, our AID workers, our professional diplomatic corps, and the large numbers of Americans working for faith-based and other non-governmental organizations in the region. These private and public servants, who had been working largely without sleep since the disaster, are a credit to our nation.
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I would like to cite two discussions involving military personnel. The first was with Vice Admiral Douglas Crowder, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. Admiral Crowder noted that he had never seen more enthused, committed sailors and Marines, even though they had never been precisely trained for this kind of mission. Knowing that those under his command lacked precise expertise for the task undertaken, he gave them a simple command: ''Do good'' and then authorized them to develop techniques to fit the circumstance, i.e., to use individual initiative. I believe somewhere on a wall at the Naval Academy ought to be chiseled Admiral Crowder's command: ''Do good.'' Its simplicity implies grandness of mission in the finest tradition of the United States Navy.
The second conversation was with a Brigadier General with the United States Marine Corps. I told him my impression was that the difference the U.S. military made in the wake of the tsunami reminded me of the Confederate cavalry officer, Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was known to have argued that the key to all military strategy was getting there ''firstest with the mostest.'' He laughed, but said the more apt analogy might be that of Rommel, who noted that amateurs speak tactics, professionals logistics. We think of our armed forces principally being trained to be put in harm's way in a wartime setting. But one of the lessons of this tsunami is that no institution in the world is better prepared to assist in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster than the military.
In the long run, civilian institutions must take over, but in the short run the armed services have an important role to play.
Here, a note about faith-based efforts is in order. In Sri Lanka, our Ambassador informed me that he had just received a call from the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, which had raised $10 million for relief assistance. Two days later, I met with a representative of the Federation in Delhi and she noted that she was prepared to consider giving assistance for the rebuilding of schools, such as the one the Marines had cleared the rubble from in Galle, Sri Lanka. She also said her organization hoped to be able to work with the Sri Lankan Buddhist monastery which was serving as a relief station for refugees, and perhaps even with groups in Aceh, Indonesia, where Muslim political activism is so widespread.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I cite this as one of many examples of American outreach to illustrate that America is more than government. We are a society of individuals who make private as well as public charitable commitments. It is the manner in which the public and private sectors interact that characterizes American governance.
I certainly do not mean to imply that the United States stood alone in these efforts. Numerous countries, including some of those hardest hit by the tsunami, quickly made their own sacrificial commitments. I would particularly like to commend the cooperation and contributions of the Kingdom of Thailand, whose air base at Utapao has served as an invaluable hub for the transport of essential relief materials throughout the affected area. Our interlocutors in the region also noted with appreciation the prompt dispatch of humanitarian assistance by countries such as Singapore, Australia, Japan, India, Spain, and the Nordic countries, among others. In addition, I would like to commend the work of various UN agencies, particularly in Sri Lanka where they have taken the lead in providing assistance in Tamil-controlled parts of the country.
The short-term response to this disaster has been uniquely global, spontaneous, and successful. The World Health Organization recently reported that although the situation remains precarious, the strength of the international response has so far helped to keep the threat of large-scale disease outbreaks at bay.
As was beginning even during our visit, the focus of the international response will necessarily shift from saving lives to rebuilding livelihoods and the many local economies that were devastated by the tsunami. At present, many thousands of fishermen, subsistence farmers, and shopkeepers are without the modest capital inputs necessary to begin providing for their families once again. Similarly, many women widowed by the waves find themselves unequipped for their sudden, untraditional role as breadwinner. Countless men, women, and children who were traumatized by the terrors of that day will require sustained attention to their mental and emotional well-being.
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This process of social and economic reconstruction will be more complex and protracted than the initial rescue and relief efforts, but no less essential. In order to be credible, international assistance must extend into the long term. Furthermore, this massive developmental response must be centrally coordinated and monitored to avoid duplication and corruption, at the same time that it must be locally responsive and open to direction from the communities and individuals most affected. We have an obligation to ensure that resources given from the highest of human motives to meet the most basic of human needs are spent in ways that are efficient, effective, and transparent. Thus, it is obvious that these endeavors will require both funding and careful oversight from the Congress in the months ahead.
On the political front, I am not alone in my hope that these unforeseen tragedies may yet have unforeseeable but positive consequences in catalyzing a peaceful resolution to longstanding separatist conflicts in the region. We have already seen welcome public commitments to renewed dialogue by the Government of Indonesia and the rebels of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Hopefully we can see a de-escalation of violence in the region, and the Indonesian government can demilitarize its approach to Aceh. I also am encouraged by initial reports that the Government of Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers, and humanitarian organizations may be exploring the feasibility of forming a tripartite approach to overseeing and coordinating the humanitarian response within that country. The United States should ensure that any aid provided is distributed on an equalitarian basis and, on the political front, should support these delicate processes of reconciliation in whatever ways are helpful and appropriate.
On the environmental front, it appears that the January 26 tragedy may have galvanized the political will necessary to implement a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean basin and, more broadly, warning systems for various natural disasters on a worldwide basis. The U.S. should play an active role in such endeavors. I will leave it to my Democratic colleague, Mr. Blumenauer, to expand further on these issues which are of longstanding concern to him.
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In conclusion, let me stress that the tsunami of December 26 cannot be viewed through a national tragedy prism; the events represented a human tragedy affecting the world community. We share in the grief and recognize that tragedies of this nature demonstrate our human vulnerability and common fate. Thank you.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Leach.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EARL BLUMENAUER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OREGON
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will not repeat what my colleagues have said and what was included in opening statements.
Suffice it to say, all of us who have been a part of the visit to this troubled area will never have these images removed from the forefront of our consciousness. I identify strongly with the points that Mr. Leach made, and I join Mr. Smith in talking about how much I valued his leadership and guidance in putting together, along with his staff, an excellent tour and, I think, providing a very productive set of exchanges.
I have a rather extensive statement that I will put in the record. I have a few points that I would like to touch on briefly.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC First and foremost, I think we were all stunned about how much of the relief effort was done so quickly. Based on my prior experience in the region, limited travels to all of those countries, and given the devastation, I think it was remarkable. And I think, as Mr. Leach said, the United States, our civilian and military personnel, are to be commended as well as the NGO community. Mercy Corps, OxFam, CARE, Save the Children, American Red Cross, in evidence, doing outstanding work on the ground and complementing the teams. I am in awe of what some of these people have done, giving of themselves hour after hour, day after day.
I think there has been much made of the outstanding response from the United States military, and I share, Mr. Chairman, your interest in being able to quantify that in some fashion. I think we would be stunned about what was done. I am pleased it was there. It made a difference. And it made a difference particularly, not only in terms of the logistics, but, I think, there is no way of getting away from the images of our people giving water to the dispossessed or helping with the transportation. It sent a very powerful message that was badly needed for the United States in this region.
I would also make reference to the work that was done by civilian employees, USAID particularly, and the consular corps and the State Department. I was struck by how entrepreneurial young Foreign Service officers, on vacation in Phuket from other countries, sprang into action once they witnessed the magnitude of the devastation to set up their own little operations with cell phones, trying to aid the families of people who had been affected.
And then the rather graphic examples, which I will not repeat, of what many of these people did trying to identify young loved ones and deal with familiesthey had to do with bodies and morgues. I mean, it was just amazing, and they did it hour after hour, day after day. And these are some of the more junior members of the Foreign Service, and I think we can be proud of the contributions that they made under very trying circumstances.
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But now, Mr. Chairman, I think the challenge is, how do we make the transition from relief to recovery? And I appreciated the statement that you made about making sure that the world's attention does not shift and that somehow we lose our will to follow up on these grandiose promises.
When we look at what has happened in the past, where, 7 years after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America, two-thirds of the promised relief from the developed countries has yet to materialize, or even the problems with providing aid in the city of Bam in Iran1 year to the day before the tsunamigives evidence to your admonition, Mr. Chairman, that we need to be vigilant and to follow through.
I personally think not only do we need to follow through, but I would offer up the observation that I think it would be a colossal mistake if the United States aid package that will be in some sort of supplemental, I hope, is tied up with another subject, particularly if it relates to the conflict in Iraq. We have an opportunity for a clean bill that showcases the United States' compassion and investment, and it deserves to be a clear picture, not be bound up in other debates here in Congress and not send a confused signal to people in the basin of the Indian Ocean.
I would also hope that we can take some lessons that we are not just helping people recover, but we leave them better off than we found them. I don't know if people remember the slide that Mr. Leach had that showed the mosque that was the only structure left standing. Now, it may be that some suggest that this was some divine intervention, but it didn't hurt the hand of the Almighty that it was of a stronger construction and a firmer foundation. And if we are going to put tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars into this region, either through government assistance or NGOs or other programs, we ought to work to make sure that we are mitigating future devastation by helping communities to rebuild, in some cases, in safer locations, that they construct sturdier buildings, that they enforce sound building practices. We have an obligation to make sure we are not putting people in this region, who have been traumatized, back into harm's way.
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There are bills introduced in this Congress to deal with early warning systems. I support it; I think it is important. It is a modest investment that will pay huge dividends. But I think we also ought to think about how we are going to deal with making the investments that are going to make a difference in prevention. Part of that deals with the natural ecosystem. The slides that we have taken that are available to you, some of which were shown, indicate that there were dramatically different impacts as you would go from place to place, sometimes on the same section of the coast. In part, that has to do with impacts of geology and the surface under the ocean, but in part, in many instances, it is what people did on the land.
When you had damaged coral reefs, when you bulldozed away mangrove to make way for shrimp farming or a resort, it took away the natural buffer that moderated the devastating force of the ocean. And I think we ought to be sensitive to ecological restoration, because it may be some of the most cost-effective ways to make sure that we protect lives in the future. Prevention can save money. The world is rallying to put not hundreds of millions but, hopefully, billions of dollars in relief and reconstruction.
The evidence is that if the world that spent hundreds of billions of dollars in the last decade had invested $40 billion in prevention, it would have saved almost $300 billion in subsequent relief efforts. This is something that we can be a part of with our partners in USAID, in other governmental activities, the World Bank. And I hopeI hopethat this Committee will lend their voice to a thoughtful approach to reconstruction.
And when we are talking about building safer communities in a physical and an ecological sense, I hope that we will be able to follow up on the words of my friend, Mr. Leach, about building on the diplomatic and person-to-person opportunities. In each of these countries that have been the scene of conflict in the recent past, there have been openings based on people opening up their hearts, working together. The reference to Sri Lanka, what has happened with the Tamil Tigers and the Government; what has happened with the separatists in Aceh and the Indonesian Government: I hope that we are actively involved.
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And I will tell you, Mr. Chairman, that your Committee Members at every step of the way reinforced, under the leadership of Mr. Leach, that they take advantage of the opportunity to reach out, to heal old wounds. But I would hope that this Committee would think about ways that we could recommend to the whole House ways to capitalize on it as well. In 1997, the United States was missing in action when the bottom fell out of the Thai economy. The Chinese put a billion dollars in, and we were kind of watching and hoping and rooting them on from the sidelines. The Thai have been our strongest ally in good times and bad for generations in this region, yet we are poised to impose upon them some tariffs, potentially on their shrimp industry.
Now, they didn't ask us for money, but I would think that while the Department of Commerce is taking some comments as to the advisability of imposing these sanctions, we could think about how we might help them. Sri Lanka is poised to have a little bit of an economic tsunami because of the change with the WTO and the elimination of the quota system for textiles. I am not suggesting that we go back to reimpose all of them, but we might think about policies that might ease the transition for the Sri Lankan Government. My colleague, Senator Gordon Smith from Oregon on the Senate side, is suggesting some legislation that might deal with the 14 tsunami-affected countries a little bit in terms of some trade activities. I would hope this Committee would exercise our jurisdiction and our judgment and look at it.
Mr. Faleomavaega mentioned the problem that we have had in recent years with the Indonesian military. And we have suspended our direct military assistance. I am not suggesting we restore giving them, in the current circumstances, more weaponry or money, but it might be time to restore the program of military training and cooperation. Because now, we are approaching a whole generation of military leadership in Indonesia that has not had that experience in the past of working with the United States military training in this country. I think there is an opening here, particularly with the new President who was the minister in Indonesia interested in reaching a new accord in Aceh. I offer that up as an opportunity for us to explore, and we might be able to provide some leadership in this Committee to help blaze a new trail.
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Mr. Chairman, Members, I appreciate your courtesy in permitting me to share some of my thoughts and observations. I have tried to focus on specific policy pieces that are within our control to help in this important debate so that it isn't just relief, and it isn't just recovery. But with the leadership, Mr. Chairman, of you and others on this Committee, I think we can help have some tremendous benefit come out of this devastation with some very specific things that are within our power. Thank you for your courtesy.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Blumenauer follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EARL BLUMENAUER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OREGON
THE SITUATION IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Faleomavaega, for the opportunity to testify. And thank you to Mr. Leach for the thoughtful way in which you led our delegation and for the extraordinarily productive conversations.
After touring the devastation caused by December's earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India, I hope never again to witness human devastation and physical destruction on such a wide scale. Whole sections of the Indonesian coastline were completely stripped of trees. You can see the high water mark of the tsunami, while over the hill people continue to carry on, seemingly untouched by the massive wall of water that caused such devastation to their neighbors, little more than a stone's throw away. While the magnitude of the ruin is difficult to capture in words, the images that will remain with me forever are those that speak of the deep personal loss experienced by children, families and villages: a train in Sri Lanka that was engulfed by the tsunami and flung off its tracks, killing 1200 people on board; the man, sitting blankly on the deserted rail platform, telling me without expression that he had lost his wife and children. News accounts and pictures simply cannot adequately portray the full power or extent of this natural disaster; if anything, they understate the destruction. Simply walking through the devastation was jarring; I cannot begin to imagine the impact on survivors.
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Our delegation went to the region, in part, to observe and evaluate the relief activities. The quality of that relief effort was also striking, less than two weeks after the disaster. People on the ground were meeting the immediate relief requirementssomething hard to imagine based on my earlier visits to the region in recent years.
USAID and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Mercy Corps, CARE, OXFAM, Save the Children and the American Red Cross understood the magnitude of the challenge and were thoroughly engaged in these critical efforts, working alongside UN organizations and local military. I want to commend the staff and volunteers of these critical NGOs for their resourcefulness and for their commitment to the victims and survivors. Without the extensive experience these groups have from their years of development and humanitarian work in the region, the international response could not have been what it was.
An important staging area for US efforts was the USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier off the coast of Banda Aceh, from which we took our helicopter tour of Aceh. We met with Rear Admiral Doug Crowder and some of his officers in charge of our military relief efforts in this area. They clearly understood the logistics and the human dynamics involved. Everyone was impressed that the sailors there were so heavily engaged in relief operations and not just dealing with the mechanics of supporting the relief effort. They provided more volunteer manpower than could be accommodated on the ground and were always looking for other opportunities to help, as when they used the carrier group's excess desalination capacity to provide clean water79,000 gallons a dayto people on the shore who so desperately needed it. The US military's unique resources to assess the situation and deliver aid when and where others could not made its actions an impressive demonstration of American capability and our values.
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While Thailand did not sustain nearly the magnitude of lost lives as Indonesia, there is still massive devastation there. The Thais are much better equipped to handle relief efforts themselves and will be able to finance most of their own reconstruction. They are also contributing to the larger relief effort by providing regional support for US aid operations, and using the Royal Thai Naval Air Base at Utapao as a staging area for international relief efforts. In Thailand, US Embassy personnel had been working around the clock, helping to identify and link the hundreds of missing or unaccounted for Americans with their families. This taxing and, at times, gruesome effort helped hundreds of American families deal with their own nightmare.
On the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka, we toured, by helicopter and bus, areas of extreme destruction on the opposite side of the island from the source of the tsunami; such was the force of the powerful waves. In Sri Lanka we were joined by Nancy Lindborg, President of Mercy Corps International, one of the key NGOs that are playing such a vital role. Mercy Corps has an extensive presence in each of the severely affected countries, having been at work for years in poverty and violence-plagued areas. Together, we toured a refugee camp and witnessed the cleanup at work.
Two of the most poignant visits were to school reconstruction sites. One school lost 250 children from a student body of 1200. We talked to a half dozen women who were teachers at the school. As they watched the cleanup, they pointed out their classrooms with student pictures still on the walls. While stricken by the loss of their students, had the wave hit while the students were in class instead of on a Sunday, most children would have been swept away, along with the teachers themselves. In another school, crews of young people from three communities in Sri Lanka were there, pulling out bricks and reusable building materials to start over. They showed not just tremendous spirit, but understanding of the need to work together to make reconstruction a positive experience.
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Now, the immediate challenge is to make the transition from relief to recovery. But we must also work alongside the affected communities and our global partners to use this moment to make the world a better and safer place.
WHAT CAN THE WE DO?
The World's Moral Responsibility
The United States and other donor governments have a moral responsibility to follow through on our commitments of aid. Sadly, the record in the aftermath of other disasters is not encouraging. Exactly one year before this tsunami, over 40,000 people lost their lives in a devastating earthquake in Bam, Iran. $1.1 billion dollars were pledged, but when the United Nations made an international appeal to fund recovery efforts, it received only $17.7 million. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch roared through Central America, the worst disaster in the Western Hemisphere. After two years, the European Union had given none of $2 billion pledged. Almost seven years after the hurricane, two-thirds of the pledged recovery money has still not been delivered.
In Aceh, the last few weeks have seen fundamentalist Islamic and al-Qaeda affiliated organizations, such as Lashkar Mujahideen, join in the relief efforts and use this tragedy to further their recruitment among the local population. Much has been made of how the sight of American soldiers with water bottles instead of guns will improve our image in the Muslim world. We must remember, just as in Bosnia ten years ago, that a failure to remain committed to the aid effort by the United States, moderate Muslims, and other mainstream forces, allows more space for extremist groups to fill. It is still too early to know how this all will play out, but it is clear that the US has a real opportunity to advance our interests here.
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On a similar note, it would also be a mistake if this relief were somehow mixed up with Iraq by including it in the same supplemental appropriations bill. While Iraq continues to be a political issue that divides Congress, it is important that the tsunami aid package receive unanimous or, at least, near unanimous support. An unseemly debate over this aid package would send an unfortunate mixed message to this part of the worldmuch of which is Muslim and most of whom disapproved of US actions in Iraq. This vote must send the message around the worldto victims of this tragedy and to other donorsthat America is united in fulfilling its obligation as a global leader. Allowing this vote to take place outside of the cauldron of the Iraq debate, will keep the focus on the aid effort and remind people that the values Americans share are values of concern and compassion.
The United States should now take the lead in making sure that pledges materialize, and in exerting leadership in the world community, so that generosity is more than a media buzz word and actually helps the hundreds of thousands of people who so desperately need it now.
Rebuilding Safer Communities
In fulfilling that commitment, we need to make sure that our long-term response doesn't recreate natural hazards that can turn into humanitarian and economic disasters. Obviously, our first priority should be to make sure people have food, shelter, clean drinking water, and medical attention. Many are now at work making sure that this priority is being met.
Attempts to restore people's lives and communities often leave them just as vulnerable to hazards as before. While we cannot prevent natural events such as floods, mudslides, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, earthquakes, or tsunamis, we can reduce or mitigate their devastating impacts by helping communities to rebuild in safer locations, construct sturdier dwellings, and enforce sound building practices. We also have a moral obligation to do better than just putting people back in harm's way.
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Preventative measures can save money as well as lives; the US Geological Survey and the World Bank estimate that in the 1990s, $40 billion invested in preventative measures could have saved $280 billion in disaster relief fundsan impressive 7:1 return on investment.
In some parts of Southeast Asia, stronger construction and wiser building locations were able to save lives and have made rebuilding much easier. Sadly, areas with shoddy construction, dense population centers, and inadequate public health capabilities experienced much greater devastation. For these reasons, disasters take a harder toll on poorer countries, which suffered more than half of the disaster-related deaths between 1992 and 2001. Whether the natural force at work is a tsunami, a massive earthquake like the one that flattened Bam, Iran, last August's hurricanes in Florida, or this month's mudslides in California, better construction, better location, and better enforcement can save lives and money.
Another equally important part of long term reconstruction lies in protecting and restoring natural ecosystems. United Nations disaster prevention experts have noted that natural barriers such as coral reefs and coastal forests mitigated the impact of the tsunami in some areas. In the fishing village of Thirunal Thoppu in India's Tamil Nadu state, local officials estimate that many were saved from the tsunami because of the thriving and dense mangroves that had been restored in the area. In the Indian Ocean basin, it was easy to see where natural buffers had been removed; the tsunami's devastation was magnified where coral reefs no longer protected coastal areas from massive storm surges. The bulldozing of entire stands of mangroves for shrimp farms and resorts left homes, those resorts and, indeed, entire communities vulnerable to nature's wrath. These natural coastal ecosystems are valuable not only to absorb polluted runoff and protect the health of our oceans, but also to protect and sustain coastal communities and economies.
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Clearly, the world will always have natural disasters with which to contend. According to United Nations research, two billion people are expected to be especially vulnerable to floods by 2050. This is not necessarily due to an increase in the frequency or severity of natural disasters, but to growing populations, indiscriminate logging, rapid urbanization, and increasing development along coasts and in other hazardous regions. While the extent to which human activity is responsible is debatable, these developments assure that more people are in harm's way. In our own country, seventy-five percent of people are at risk to one or more disasters, flooding being the most common. Some have argued that the current tsunami disaster should cause serious rethinking of seaside development for coastal locations, not only in Southeast Asia, but in this country as well. In the US, coastal lands are home for more than half of our population, but comprise only 13 percent of the total land area.
As I toured the devastation in Asia, I thought frequently about New Orleans. The city has always been at risk because of its low-lying location. But the risk has been increased by rising sea levels, groundwater pumping which lowers the city's elevation and various flood control and petroleum development structures that result in the destruction of protective wetlands and barrier islands. An area equal to a football field is lost every hour to coastal erosion in Louisiana, making areas like New Orleans even more vulnerable. Only a 40 mile westward shift in Hurricane Ivan's path last September would have inundated New Orleans. The result, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) calculations, would have been thousands of deaths, along with an estimated $100 billion in damage to critical energy, transportation, and industrial infrastructure.
The best way to minimize damage from tsunamis and other disasters is to reduce vulnerability. We spend lots of time and energy and billions of dollars a year dealing with natural disasters after the events occur. Preparedness and mitigation are just as important as response and recovery. Disaster preparations should include everything from building disaster resistant communities, to public education about risks and responses, plans for evacuation or survival, and a thoughtful plan for short and long-term recovery.
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There are already bills introduced in the House that deal with early warning systems, an important step towards preparedness. I strongly support those efforts. I hope that Congress will also ensure that part of the United States' rebuilding efforts in Southeast Asia focus on disaster preparedness and restoring and rehabilitating the coral reefs, mangroves, marshes and forests that buffer the impact of tsunamis. USAID should partner with local communities impacted by the disaster to not only construct buildings properly and in the proper places, but to build local capacity to manage growth through these design principles.
We should also be careful that our rebuilding efforts not make the problem worse in the future; for example, indiscriminate logging for lumber to reconstruct houses and shelter could contribute to even more flooding and landslides during future extreme weather events.
Promoting Peace and Security
In addition to helping rebuild safer communities, we have an unparalleled opportunity to use the tsunami response to promote peace and stability in this troubled region. Already the stricken nations are beginning this long, arduous effort; time and again, I saw people rising to the occasion.
In the course of our journey, I was especially impressed with India. In spite of its significant losses, India responded almost immediately to assist more damaged nations. As India continues to provide responsible regional leadership, we need to look very hard at our relationship with the world's largest democracy, including whether it is not time to support India's accession to permanent membership on the UN Security Council.
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There is an opportunity to upgrade our relationship with India on a whole host of shared interests and increase American leadership in South Asia. Security cooperation has seen notable progress since the terrorist attacks of September 11th and should be accelerated. The India-Pakistan peace initiative has continued with friendly and constructive talks and it appears that both sides are committed to finding a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue. Redoubled effort from the Bush Administration towards peace will find an India ready to move forward.
We must, as well, work with India to enhance nuclear security, end-phase missile defense, and nonproliferation objectives. During our delegation, it was quite hard to explain to Indian parliamentarians and business people why the United States is again contemplating selling advanced military hardware to Pakistan, when such equipment could only be used against India, as it has in the past. This, to a country with a history of nuclear proliferation through the A.Q. Khan network that could not have occurred without the knowledge of the highest levels of government. Yet, at the same time, the US refuses to sell sophisticated equipment to India, an ally with an unblemished record on issues of proliferations and the protection of dual-use technology.
The impact of the tsunami on conflict regions in Sri Lanka and Indonesia also presents new opportunities for active diplomacy towards peace. In Sri Lanka, we heard numerous examples of low-level but genuine and important cooperation between the government, the separatist Tamil Tigers, and international aid agencies, working to assist stricken communities. This cooperation is just beginning to be institutionalized at higher levels and the Norwegian delegation which has been facilitating this process should be given all the support necessary to build on this momentum towards a greater peace.
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In Indonesia, the dynamics of the long-standing conflict in Aceh were always just beneath the surface. Despite some mixed messages, the Indonesian government has a new opportunity to make real progress on the Aceh issue and has indicated an interest in strengthening relationships with the United States. In Aceh, we heard some encouraging words from Indonesian officials, though it does not appear that actions have matched those words. I hope that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who knows well the need to settle the Aceh issue from his days as the minister in charge of security, will seize this unique moment for a peaceful resolution in Aceh. Reports of scattered clashes between the Indonesian military (TNI) and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), as well as of GAM assistance in aid delivery highlight both the necessity and opportunity of a renewed diplomatic effort on the Aceh question.
In addition, for Indonesia, the experience of close cooperation with the international community is also a chance to strengthen relations between the US and the first popularly elected Indonesian government, on the basis of shared interests and improved human rights. This aid is an important first step. We might also be wise to consider renewed military cooperation with Indonesia, though not weapons sales, for the purpose of promoting professionalism and reform within the TNI and improving their ability to deal effectively and appropriately with continued security and humanitarian challenges. We are encountering a whole generation of TNI leadership that has never participated in exchange or training with their US counterparts and it shows.
Remembering the Rest of the World
At the same time as we deal with the tragedy in Southeast Asia, it is important to remember those humanitarian crises and malignant threats that have been eclipsed in the public eye and in private giving, as well as those that are yet to come. New reports put the death toll in the Darfur region of Sudan at 200,000, with close to 2 million people displaced. Renewed fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo raises the specter of a return to the conflict that has killed almost 4 million people in the last decade. Lack of access to clean water and sanitation around the world kills up to 5 million people per year. Much of the aid pledged to tsunami-affected countries by multilateral development banks and other donors is reprogramming of existing aid accounts, rather than new money for this crises. As we work to rebuild lives and communities in Southeast Asia, the world cannot allow a zero-sum game with our attention and our money to diminish our moral commitment to elsewhere on the globe. The money we spend on aid to tsunami-affected countries must be new money, not merely the shifting around of dollars. It would be a shame if the impact of this disaster was that other vulnerable populations must suffer.
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Returning from Southeast Asia, I am profoundly struck by the reality of what I saw and its implications for our efforts at home and abroad to provide assistance and work to mitigate against future losses to life. We all benefit by taking positive steps that provide badly needed relief, followed by long term measures that improve and sustain communities and economies, and policies that provide greater protection from future events and strengthen global cooperation.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Blumenauer. It is customary that the first panel and Members of Congress do not run the gauntlet of interrogation, and so we are all released from that burden.
The second panel: I would like to welcome Andrew Natsios, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. He is also President Bush's Special Coordinator for International Disaster Assistance. He previously served at USAID as Director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and as Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Food and Humanitarian Assistance.
Alan Larson is the Under Secretary of State for Economic Business and Agricultural Affairs, the first Foreign Services' officer to hold that post. He served as the United States Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris and served in American Embassies in Jamaica, Zaire and Sierra Leone.
Peter Rodman is the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. Prior to joining the Defense Department, he was the Director of National Security Affairs at the Nixon Center. He also served at the State Department and the National Security Council during the Administrations of Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and the first President Bush. Welcome to you, Mr. Rodman.
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Brigadier General Allen currently serves as the Principal Director for Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Pentagon. General Allen is a graduate of the Naval Academy class of 1976 and has a long and distinguished career serving our country in the Marine Corps. His decorations include the Legion of Merit with three Gold Stars, the Meritorious Service Medal with a Gold Star, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with three Gold Stars, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a Gold Star.
Mr. Natsios, if you will please proceed with a 5-minute summary of your statement and each of the full statements of the panel will be made a part of the record. Mr. Natsios.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ANDREW S. NATSIOS, ADMINISTRATOR, U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Mr. NATSIOS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you Members of the Committee for the opportunity to testify today.
As we speak, one of the largest humanitarian responses in history is proceeding with the full collaboration of the staff of my agency, USAID, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and other Federal agencies. We are working closely with the international system of the NGO community, with international organizations.
I recently returned from a trip to the region with Secretary Powell and Governor Bush and saw up close the devastation of this disaster. I, as you know, chaired or was Director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance within USAID, the principal responder to foreign disasters in the U.S. Government, in the first Bush Administration. So I have some previous experience doing this sort of work. I have never seen devastation in 12 countries simultaneously like this. It is very, very unusual.
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This is the fourth worst earthquake in recorded history. People forget this is not just a tsunami. The interior of the island of Sumatra was severely damaged before the tsunami hit. There were joint assessment teams by the U.S. military and USAID staff, and 70 to 80 percent of the bridges are out within the interior of the island in a mountainous area that was not affected by the tsunami at all, and then the tsunami struck. That was what was more visible.
I also led the U.S. Government team to the pledging conference in Geneva the week before last and know what the international community is doing. Our allies in Japan and Australia, in Thailand and India, New Zealand, and of course Europe and Canada, have been very active in working on this enormously important response.
We responded very rapidly, contrary to some of the impressions the media gave. The Disaster Assistance Response Team of USAID was mobilized on Sunday morning, which is the morning that the disaster took place. I came back from church at 1:00 p.m., and my staff had already started the Response Management Team, which is our reachback in Washington. They had already mobilized the DART team and cancelled everybody's leave, because the week after Christmas is, as you know, traditionally a time for vacations in this city. The entire office staff had their leave cancelled, and they were called back to service.
I have some slides here I would like to show you. If you look, you can see where the actual earthquake wasoff the coast of Sumatra, here in the center. If you look carefully at the picture or the map of Sri Lanka, you will note that the red, which is the area affected, covers almost the entire island, including the west coast. And I couldn't quite understand how it was that a tsunami could affect the west coast, since it came from the east. And the reason is that the tsunami hit the Indian coast. It bounced back, and the waves from the Indian coast did enormous damage to the west coast of Sri Lanka.
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Secretary Powell and I were on a Sri Lankan helicopter along that coast just to see the damage, the secondary damage from the wave. The Island of the Maldives was spared complete destruction because a coral reef broke the enormous power and force of this wave or series of waves.
We even had damage done in Somalia. Some of the NGOs that we work with in Somalia reported substantial damage to the fisheries area on the coastline of Somalia.
I would also add that, in terms of destruction, there are very few natural disasters in the last century that have equaled this, that are fast onset. Certainly, we have had famines where millions of people have died. But for a fast onset disaster like this, this is very unusual.
The first responders in any disasters anywhere in the world are not the international aid community or the NGOs, but the local people; the people in the villages are there because they are in the middle of the disaster. And if they survive the initial event, they do the response. And all the literature and the research we have done, the experience we have had over the years, tells us that our job is to support their efforts; not to take their place, not to come and impose things from the outside. It is to support local efforts at response by helping them do what they do best, because they are the most motivated since it is their communities that were so seriously damaged.
We also had a lot of debate in the international community, the media, as to who is in charge in these countries. It is not the United Nations. It is not the United States. It is not the European Union. It is not Asia. It is the countries themselves. These are four democratically-elected governments. They have competent ministries. We have been working with them for many years. We know what capacity they have, and they did a remarkable job on their own through their own ministries and their own emergency management agencies and their own militaries.
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The Indians, who were severely damaged by this on the coastline, sent their military in. Because they are such a large country with enormous capacity, they sent their military in to help in Sri Lanka very early on. And we want to thank the Indian Government for their support very early.
You see here in this slide the beginning of the cleanup effort. We try to move very rapidly from humanitarian relief into rehabilitation and then into reconstruction. We used to do these things sequentially, and we learned in the last decade from painful experience that, in fact, all these things take place simultaneously, not sequentially. So we were beginning the rehabilitation within a week of the event itself in Sri Lanka, while we are continuing even now to provide humanitarian relief for some people who are particularly vulnerable and cannot support themselves.
There are four major initiatives that we have undertaken in the relief, in the rehabilitation stage. They are, first, cash for work. We are working with our friends from Europe, Japan, Australia, and Canada, to design programs to put a small amount of money daily into people's pockets to create demand so that the markets can be reconstructed. Because if there is no demand, merchants aren't going to put goods out in the market. So we need the markets functioning to get the society moving again.
We also need to move people to do something constructive for themselves. Many of them are dwelling on what has happened to them, and they are going, literally, into shock and emotional trauma because their entire families have died, their villages have been destroyed, their jobs have been destroyed, their livelihoods, their religious institutions. Nothing is left. And they literally will become severely depressed unless measures are taken through the communities to get people active again. So $5 or $6 a day, which is a very good wage in many of these countries, are getting peoplethousands of themback to work cleaning up and beginning the reconstruction project.
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The second thing we are doing is shelter reconstruction. We have a $10 million shelter program that we announced 10 days into this tragedy in Sri Lanka so that people can build temporary housing. We want to avoid camps, if we canthis is from international experience in these disasters. If there have to be camps, we understand that. For the most part, camps are not the best solution for dealing with displacement. If people can build their own homes, they usually build them back where their old homes were. They are drawn back, even in the United States, to go back to the place they came from even if there is nothing left to rebuild.
The third thing we have done is begun a microfinance credit program. And you see here one example of that. This is the housing reconstruction. Small loans are being made to recapitalize businesses to create inventory so they can sell things on the markets and get the economy moving.
And the final thing we are doing, particularly in this stage is to try to get the fishing industry back. These fishing communities' primary employment was their fishing boats, and many of them were partially destroyed or moved way inland 2 or 3 miles. And their equipment, their fishing nets and all that, were destroyed. We are replacing those now, working with the NGO communities and the national government ministries.
One of the most serious crises we faced the first week was water. Waterborne diseases, we were afraid, because of past experience, could have begun cholera epidemics or diarrheal epidemics. We did something quite unusual. We had an existing program initiated by President Bush on the development side called Clean Water for the Poor. It is a worldwide USAID program. And we have designed this with Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control. In Indonesia, it is run with CARE, the NGO. We produced 10,000 bottles of water purification solution a day. This is enough water purificationit is basically sodium hypochloride, which is a form of bleach. One capful will purify 10 liters of water, which is enough water for one family for 1 day. This is enough for a whole family for a month of clean water.
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We diverted the production from one of the factories in Jakarta to the disaster area, 70,000 of these. So 70,000 families, which is much of the displaced population, had these within a few days. If we had not had a development program in place prior to the disaster, we couldn't use this to avoid the destructive effect of dirty water polluted by this disaster. So having development and relief programs work in an integrated fashion is very important. The U.S. military helped us transport these very rapidly into Banda Aceh.
Next slide, please.
We also did another very interesting thing. Herbie Smith, who is one of our Food for Peace officers, one of our best logisticians in USAID, is in the USAID Jakarta mission. We have missions resident, by the way, in all of these countries, so there was staff there already beginning to work the day of the disaster. There are 100 USAID mission staff working with 50 DART team people from Washington, Disaster Assistance Response Team people who are sent out, technical experts.
And what they found is this: The USS Abraham Lincoln was off the coast, and the captain of the aircraft carrier said, ''We can produce a huge amount of clean water, 90,000 gallons, but we don't know how to get it to the individuals on the coast. What do we do?'' And so Herbie went out and bought all of the available 10-liter water containers, collapsible water containers, from all the markets in Jakarta. I think there were 10,000 of them he bought in one afternoon. He put them on a C130 of the U.S. military, shipped them out to the USS Lincoln. The military, the naval sailors, filled them up with the clean water. We brought them back, and the NGOs helped distribute them through the soldiers to the displaced population.
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So you have an integration of U.S. military, USAID's capacity to move rapidly, and the NGO community in what worked extraordinarily well, very rapidly. I didn't even know this distribution project happened until a week after it was all finished. And so we actually had our information system moving more slowly than the actual operation itself.
Here are some pictures of damaged boats. We need to repair livelihoods because people have to support themselves, as I said earlier. We have moved about 30,000 tons of food aid through the NGOs and through the World Food Program to temporarily get people nutrition for the first few weeks. But there is enough food in these countries if the markets will only function, and they had a little income to buy their own food in the markets, cook it themselves for their own purposes. These are not food-deficit countries.
This is a wonderful sight here, a story from one of our staff, Barbara Turner, who is one of our most senior officers. She has many nieces and nephews. And there was a 6-year-old nephew of hers who said, ''Aunt Barbara, I would like to give my weekly allowance to help the tsunami victims.'' This photograph was in many newspapers across the country. And he said, ''But could I get a ride on the USAID helicopter you see back there, just to see what it is like to be in a helicopter?'' And Barbara said, ''We don't have any helicopters; we rely on the U.S. military helicopters.'' He associated this new tag line we have, ''U.S. aid from the American people,'' which we just rolled out in the last few months, because many of you were asking me why people don't know we are helping them in these countries. We are doing that now in a very effective way, and you can see that in this slide.
But this, once again, used the logistic systems of the U.S. military with the relief supplies from our regional warehouses. We have regional warehouses in Dubai, and we practically emptied them into all of these countries in terms of plastic sheeting, water purification systems, blankets, medical kits and that sort of thing.
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Finally, this is a chart that explains how we do our work. We have the crisis event. The Ambassadors declare a disaster. We mobilize our teams, our staff and our funding sources. We focus on four interventions: Food, health, shelter, water, and sanitation in all relief responses. And, finally, we move as rapidly as we can into rehabilitation and reconstruction.
There are four key initiatives that we are going to focus on in the reconstruction phase, which is now being planned in cooperation with the State Department, Alan Larson's staff, and with members of the U.S. military working with the international community. This is all done collaboratively. The leads are the countries themselves, but the World Bank is organizing the donor assessment teams that are going in with the ministries in the countries.
And the first assessments actually just arrived yesterday. From these assessments, we are focusing in the four areas, four countries: First, on some of the engineering surveys and planning work that is going to help the ministries to actually plan the infrastructure reconstruction. And we are talking now with the Corps of Engineers about some of those studies. Secondly, we will be doing some very large-scale effortsshould the Congress approve the supplemental budgetwhich will contain money for this reconstruction effort. But if we have that money, some large-scale reconstruction will involve water plants, bridges, and roads.
The third is in the area of economic livelihoods that I mentioned earlier, cash for work, that sort of thing.
And finally, we are going to work to build future capacity of local government and provincial and national government to respond to natural disasters on their own in the future.
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Those will be the areas that we will be working on. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Natsios follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ANDREW S. NATSIOS, ADMINISTRATOR, U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today about U.S. strategies for relief and reconstruction assistance in response to the recent devastating tsunami. As we speak, one of the largest humanitarian responses in history is proceeding with the full collaboration of staff from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of State, and other federal departments and agencies. U.S. Government agencies are also closely working with the governments of tsunami-affected countries, other donor governments, UN agencies, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The very day the earthquake hit, USAID mobilized Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DARTs) and USAID Mission staff to respond to humanitarian needs in the affected countries. Approximately 50 DART members and more than 100 USAID Mission staff in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are conducting assessments of affected areas, participating in the overall coordination of relief and reconstruction activities, apprising funding requests, and recommending appropriate U.S. Government relief efforts. And we immediately established our 24-hour Response Management Team (RMT) in Washington as a backstop to the field staff and point of contact for information and assistance.
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What U.S. and other relief workers confronted was a massive disaster that, in addition to devastating lives, created major obstacles to relief and recovery operations. The severity and geographic scope of the earthquake and resulting tsunamis, particularly in Indonesia, demanded a huge logistical operation. The tsunamis destroyed much of the infrastructure of Aceh that could be used as the backbone of response activities.
Even prior to the disaster, many countries in the region had limited airport and seaport facilities. In one area, we quickly concluded that a lack of trained personnel in the air traffic management system would significantly slow down relief delivery. Australian and American forces that had air traffic control experience were put in place and remedied the situation.
One member of the USAID family experienced the disaster first hand. Bill Foerderer, from USAID/Jakarta, and his family were in Khao Lak, Thailand on Christmas holiday, relaxing after a very eventful year in Indonesia. The morning the disaster hit, they had left their hotel to go kayaking on the bay side of the Phuket peninsula. Shortly after putting in on the water, they were called back to shore by park guards who had been informed of the disaster that had already struck the Andaman coast. They knew something was wrong and tried to go back to their hotel. Scenes of rubble and devastation awaited themmore than 5 kilometers inland. Most of the people in their hotel had died in the Tsunami, and Bill and his family were evacuated to a nearby town, Takuapa. After contacting U.S. Embassy/Bangkok, Bill spent most of the night of the 26th in the Takaupa Hospital, gathering names of Americans who were injured in the disaster. U.S. Embassy Bangkok provided superlative support, taking names of the Americans, but also the names of the many Scandinavian and German children, whom Bill found injured, frightened, and without their parents. Thanks to the U.S. Embassy, critical information was communicated to American and foreign families within hours of the disaster. And thanks to the Consular staff, Bill and his wife Betina received new passports the same day, and returned to their post in Jakarta, Indonesia where they both work on the tremendous USAID team that is delivering relief to Aceh and North Sumatra.
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In this environment, the international relief community, including USAID, the U.S. military, and other U.S. Government agencies, displayed remarkable ingenuity. Despite the great size and complexity of the response, flexibility became the rule of the day. A good example of this is the partnership between USAID and two if its partners, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Development Alternatives (DAI). Prior to the earthquake, humanitarian organizations were not permitted into Aceh province without express permission by the Government of Indonesia. Despite this restriction, IOM and DAI had managed to retain a strong relationship with provincial officials through a network of local staff in every district. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, USAID and other donors capitalized on these relationships by providing relief funding to IOM and DAI to immediately move relief commodities into Aceh from Medan on 80 trucks contracted by USAID/Indonesia.
U.S. military assets were critical in overcoming logistical obstacles. The military provided airlifts, helicopters, and sea transport. The civilian relief community, including USAID staff, provided support in prioritizing humanitarian needs and vetting requests for assistance. This alignment of military and civilian capacities, which I will discuss further, was a key aspect of this response and represents a major step forward in how the U.S. Government responds to disasters.
One of the more remarkable examples of cooperation involved a USAID Food for Peace Officer, Herbie Smith, and the USS Abraham Lincoln. The Abraham Lincoln was offshore of Banda Aceh and had capacity to produce tens of thousands of gallons of potable water. The only problem was that there was no way to get it to people on shore. Herbie quickly went out and bought a huge quantity of water jugs from local markets throughout Indonesia, and arranged with the military to get the jugs transported to the Abraham Lincoln. Military personnel then filled the jugs with clean water, and helicopters distributed the water in Aceh. This is but one example of how USAID's experienced staff, working hand-in-hand with the military, got assistance to needy populations.
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With the arrival of additional personnel and operating equipment, many of the logistical challenges were largely overcome. Procedures established by USAID's DART and Mission staff and U.S. military personnel helped ensure effective delivery of goods and the accurate tracking of cargo. I am able to report that the distribution of relief assistance in Indonesia has now progressed from emergency airdrops of relief supplies via helicopter into an orderly distribution process in most of the affected areas. Despite congestion, bad weather, and security concerns, the U.N. World Food Program, with U.S. and other donor contributions, is providing food to approximately 330,000 beneficiaries in that country. Helicopter drops continue only in isolated areas and efforts are underway to increase access to these regions.
USAID's effort in South Asia vindicates the significant procedural and policy changes that govern how the Agency responds to overseas disasters. We have both revamped our organizational approach and accelerated the time perspective under which we conduct relief work operations. These changes have been in the works for the last several years. They are based largely on our experiences with Hurricane Mitch, as well as applying the lessons we learned in Mozambique, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Until recently, a compartmentalized approach was used in responding to disasters overseas. USAID's Office of Food for Peace (FFP) would handle emergency food needs, while USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) would respond to immediate non-food necessities. If the disaster struck in a ''country in transition,'' USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) would respond with appropriate self-sustaining initiatives. After immediate life-saving assistance was provided, USAID's respective regional bureau would step in to work on reconstruction and rehabilitation. This approach was very segmented, both chronologically and organizationally. This meant lost opportunities in the use of relief activities that could accelerate reconstruction, encourage community participation, and build a foundation for development. In contrast to the past, USAID now takes a more holistic approach organizationally and a longer term view operationally.
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In responding to disasters, USAID has made organizational changes that allow it to draw immediately from particular expertise found throughout the Agency and in the rest of the U.S. Government. In the Tsunami relief effort, USAID's DART and RMT included staff not only from OFDA, but also from several other USAID offices and bureaus, including FFP, OTI, the Office of Democracy and Governance, the Bureau for Global Health, the Bureau for Asia and the Near East and its USAID Missions in the affected area, and the Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs. Staff from USAID Missions in Jakarta, Colombo, New Delhi, and Bangkok (and it is important to note the value of having a U.S. foreign assistance presence in the region before, during, and after such a crisis) were embedded into the DART structure from the beginning. We have also pulled staff for the DART and RMT from other federal agencies, such as DOD, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the Department of Agriculture, including the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau for Land Management. The DART and RMT also utilized staff from outside the federal government, including the Fairfax and Los Angeles Search and Rescue teams, the University of Texas, and the Center of Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance.
USAID has drawn upon its long experience in humanitarian relief to establish the relationships and agreements necessary to quickly deploy all available assets when a disaster strikes. The Agency worked in partnership with the global civilian humanitarian relief communityNGOs and international organizations. Bringing together their experience, technical skills, and resources adds tremendous value to our response efforts. In the Tsunami disaster, you have seen the fruits of that labor. Effective coordination is the key component of the new model for USAID operations. To effectively spearhead the U.S. Government's disaster response, our activities can no longer be stove-piped into different offices and bureaus within the Agency.
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In disasters of this magnitude, it is also absolutely essential to coordinate civilian response activities with those of the U.S. military. Let me take this opportunity to personally thank the President and the military for rapidly committing considerable assets to the region. Without their strong support, especially with regard to transportation and the staff and equipment they made available, our response would not have been as effective as it was.
Cooperation between USAID and the Department of Defense has expanded dramatically over the last several years in response to natural disasters and critical military operations. Key to this cooperation has been the creation of effective coordination mechanisms, from the tactical field level all the way up to the strategic headquarters level. Standard operating procedures and close cooperation between USAID and the military has been solid from the top to the bottom of the chain of command, with USAID staff engaged at critical points at which decisions are made. What we have witnessed over the past several weeks is substantial progress toward the seamless cooperation of both organizations in natural disaster response, which is the result of hard work long before the earthquake and tsunamis hit. The efforts of both DOD and USAID to build relationships that bring the capabilities and expertise of each into an effective partnership have proven their worth in this disaster, and we will continue this approach of active engagement and planning with DOD.
Let me explain how the relationship is working in the field today by citing what took place in Thailand. In Thailand's humanitarian assistance hub, the DART established a Military Liaison Cell, which validates and prioritizes requests for assistance. This helps ensure that U.S. military resources are used in the most effective and efficient manner, based on humanitarian principles as opposed to first come, first served. Liaison officers from the affected countries' militaries, as well as from militaries of other donor nations, also participated in the coordination process. The military's willingness to accept USAID guidance on the best use of their assets to support local governments and NGOs in responding to humanitarian needs was a milestone in our relationship. For that I am again very grateful. I am also convinced that this coordination was key to saving lives, feeding people, and relieving untold suffering. USAID has also placed staff at the Pacific Command Headquarters in Hawaii, where much of the planning for the relief effort originated under Admiral Tom Fargo's leadership. As we move from relief to reconstruction, USAID and DOD are already working to ensure a seamless and smooth transition from reliance on military assets to those of civilian agencies. Towards this end, USAID's Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia and the Near East just returned from a trip with Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz to the region where they discussed concrete steps to ensure that civilian agencies are in position to assume roles and support now provided by the US military.
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USAID's policy of consolidating and coordinating relief efforts within the Agency and across the U.S. government is only part of our new approach. Another is our focus on incorporating development objectives for economic and societal change into relief efforts from the very beginning of a response. Our policy is to plan and carry out relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction simultaneously.
More than two decades ago the late, legendary disaster expert Fred Cuny published a groundbreaking book, Disasters and Development. In it he laid out his experience of years of working with the victims of natural disasters the world round. His vision was revolutionary, yet breathtakingly simple. In a nutshell: the talent and resilience of people struck by disaster are the most powerful forces for rehabilitation and reconstruction in disaster relief. The people in their communities are the first responders in any disaster. In fact, they represent forces so powerful that they canand mustbe harnessed to build positive change in the affected society.
Natural disastersearthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tsunamishurt people and cripple economies. They kill; they maim; and they destroy. But victims are never helpless. These people know their environment. They know their society. They are very likely to have coped with other disasters in their history. They, more than anyone, want to recover. And, as the shock of the disaster subsides, new opportunities emerge to build a more sustainable, more equitable, and, in many cases, a less violent society. Disaster survivors are often among the strongest voices for social change.
External assistance must capitalize on these opportunities. Of course, immediate physical needs have to be met: clean water and sanitation, health care, food, and shelter. But the best way for outsiders to assist is to provide help that is part of a long-term solution, rather than just a hand-out. In practice, this means that relief assistance efforts should, from the very beginning, focus on recovery and renewal. While providing life-saving assistance, we need to help revive the local economy, which will ultimately be the engine to drive a return to normalcy.
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Relief assistance should help local government and civil authorities get back on their feet by empowering their response to the disaster. To meet relief needs, interventions should re-start social services at the local levelschools, primary health care clinics, water treatment facilities, and so on. It should, early on, assist stricken families with the help they need to restore destroyed housing and ruined livelihoods. Again, the assistance effort should focus on development even as it provides short-term relief.
Fred was killed in Chechnya in 1995, almost ten years ago. Yet the Indian Ocean tsunami shows that his vision is as relevant as ever. Not only does his approach make for more effective responses, it simultaneously opens prospects for social change. We must work to see that something good can emerge out of destruction.
This approach to relief and development assistance forms the cornerstone of USAID's programming strategy. It emanates through USAID's nine ''Principles of Development and Reconstruction Assistance'' (attached). For example, the Principle of Ownership states that the affected people themselves own their relief and recovery process. The Principle of Capacity-Building requires that USAID interventions strengthen local institutions. The Principle of Sustainability says that program impact must endure after assistance ends.
By integrating traditional relief activities with measures to strengthen self-sufficiency and productivity, relief can ensure survival while also building a foundation for future development. USAID's doctrine on linking relief and development is composed of the following:
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Affected countries have the primary responsibility for their transition from relief to recovery and development.
International partners have the responsibility to ensure the positive impact of their programs through effective operational and strategic coordination.
Relief programs shall reinforce development objectives.
Programs shall be designed to help prevent future disaster, natural and man-made, or to mitigate their effects so that the development progress of countries is not undermined.
The nine principles and the simultaneous provision of relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction guide all USAID activities, and our response to the earthquake and tsunamis is no exception. Even while USAID was taking immediate life-saving action, we were also addressing the longer-term needs of the affected population through immediate rehabilitation interventions, including short-term employment projects and activities to strengthen local communities.
The reconstruction phase overall will focus on four core themes:
One, providing assistance to affected governments with immediate survey and planning work to help them make the best decisions about utilizing the considerable contributions from the world community.
Two, assistance with several high visibility transportation and public utilities projects, including roads, bridges, water treatment plants, that will serve as ''signature'' U.S. Government interventions.
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Three, immediate restoration of economic livelihoods, such as small loans, fisheries restoration and cash-for-work programs, that will pump much needed money directly into the hardest hit communities, to allow the victims to take control of their own lives and start rebuilding their businesses.
And four, building the capacity within the affected governments to prepare for and respond to future disasters. This would include both U.S. support for a regional tsunami early warning system and a broad range of projects within Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India to build national, provincial and local government capacity to respond to natural disasters.
With additional resources, USAID will also expand the geographic scope of ongoing development programs. We will strengthen local capacity to plan and rebuild community level infrastructure, strengthen and expand formal and non-formal training to improve basic education and job skills, and improve democratic governance and accountability, especially of local governments as they reestablish and improve basic services in the tsunami-affected areas. Because of the ongoing conflicts in both countries, our development portfolios were limited in much of the area affected by the tsunami; the host countries' openness to international agencies and relief have opened the door for broader reconstruction and development assistance. In both Indonesia and Sri Lanka, we will expand ongoing partnerships with U.S. and local NGOs to rebuild homes, schools and clinics; to identify and train teachers and additional primary health care workers, and to provide credit and technical assistance to create jobs and income opportunities. While reports suggest that those internally displaced are already beginning to return to their communities, we will obviously continue to provide assistance along with the World Food Program and other international agencies to IDPs in camps.
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Most of these initiatives will be managed from our country-based Missions. Our new regional office in Bangkok, Thailand will provide overall procurement support for the region and manage any regional efforts, such as the early warning response.
While meeting physical relief and reconstruction needs, we must also remember to address people's psychological well-being. Programs focused on assisting survivors to lower their levels of distress, return to a sense of normalcy and stability, and resume their roles in the family and community are an important part of USAID's approach. Family connection is a cornerstone of psychological well-being. USAID is therefore supporting programs that trace unaccompanied children and unite them with extended family members. We are also funding initiatives that provide structured opportunities for children to promote a sense of security and stability. Such programs have the added benefit of supervising children while adult family members engage in rebuilding efforts or income-generating activities.
We are also stepping up our education and public awareness efforts to create greater understanding and heighten attention to the added risk vulnerable women and children face to falling victims to traffickers. When people are displaced, when children are separated from their families, when livelihoods are ruined, and when infrastructure is destroyed, people become more vulnerable to labor and sex trafficking crimes. While so far there is no evidence to suggest that trafficking has increased, we are redoubling our efforts to educate women and children and relief workers to the increased risk, and to help government organizations in affected countries to address issues of protection and abuse among those affected by the tsunami. In Sri Lanka, for example, USAID has funded UNICEF and Save the Children/UK to establish a registry of orphans and funded the Solidarity Center to provide training and strengthen government and civil society collaboration to protect children. In Indonesia, similar awareness and education activities will begin in the IDP camps and for relief workers who come in contact with these populations.
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As USAID continues to make major improvements in its approach and operations, we have not forgotten one of our fundamental obligationsensuring the proper and effective use of U.S. Government funding . USAID takes its responsibility as steward of taxpayer money very seriously. For this purpose, USAID/DART members and Mission staff meet regularly with host governments and contractors and grantees to ensure that all USAID-funded activities are well coordinated and complement other programs on the ground. USAID staff members make regular field visits to observe the progress of USAID-funded programs. Our missions are also working with civil society organizations in the countries, such as the Forum on Aceh Recovery, to assist efforts of local organizations to track and monitor relief and recovery budgets. USAID will deploy new USAID Emergency Disaster Response Coordinators to work in close collaboration with the Mission and implementing partners to ensure the efficient and responsible implementation of programs that have been established in the early days of the response. From the inception of our response, the Inspector General's Office has been involved in the planning of our relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction programs to ensure high levels of accountability for public funds. Through their regional office in Manila, the Inspector General will monitor the relief and reconstruction effort.
Of course, neither USAID, nor the entire U.S. Government for that matter, is alone in the outpouring of assistance from our generous nation. The American people, in the form of individuals, civic associations, churches, and corporations, are giving stunning amounts through NGOs. The President, and former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush, have asked people to reach deep into their pockets to help those affected by this disaster. And the response has been overwhelming. Americans have donated more than $520 million to humanitarian agenciesa total amount second only to 9/11. USAID is actively working with large corporate partners to build public-private alliances in support of medium to long-term reconstruction efforts in the region. For example, USAID has already initiated a partnership with Mars, Incorporated, which has generously committed $1 million to assist vulnerable children in the affected area. I would like to thank this President, and the two former Presidents as well, for helping to mobilize this remarkable display of public support. And I would like to thank the American peoplefor showing the world once again what a compassionate people we truly are.
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The compassion of Americans is at the very core of what USAID stands for. By giving the citizens of emerging nations a helping hand as they work to improve their societies and economies, we show the world the best of the United States. As the President said, ''Well after the immediate danger passes, USAID is still going to be in the hard-hit areas . . . helping the people improve their schools and develop health services and mitigate conflict and reinvigorate local economies, and help build institutions of democracy, so people can live in peace and freedom.''
The policy changes that I have described here today, the results of which you have seen in the remarkable relief efforts underway in South Asia, are all part of living up to the trust that the American people have placed in us. The world is a complex place, and interventions have to be designed accordingly. We have to stay flexible, keep our eye on the long-term objectives, and work together. This is the only way forward. And this is the new USAID.
PRINCIPLES OF DEVELOPMENT AND RECONSTRUCTION ASSISTANCE
The following nine principles are the key tenets of USAID's work. The principles are not a checklist. They are a summary of the characteristics of successful assistance programs. They cannot be applied the same way in each situation but should serve as a reference for development practitioners as they design and implement programs.
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Principle of Ownership
Recognize that a country and its people own, and participate in, their social and economic development.
Principle of Capacity-Building
Strengthen local institutions and promote appropriate policies essential to economic growth and good governance. Recognize that there are limits to a country's and its institutions' ability to absorb large amounts of assistance.
Principle of Partnership
Achieve common development objectives through close collaboration with governments, communities, donors, NGOs, international organizations, universities, and the private sector.
Principle of Selectivity
Allocate resources to countries and programs based on need, policy performance and foreign policy interests.
Principle of Sustainability
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Design programs in a way that ensures their impact endures after assistance ends.
Principle of Agility
Adjust to changing conditions, take advantage of opportunities and minimize the cost of delivering assistance.
Principle of Accountability
Assign individual responsibility for managing tax-payer funds, and apply transparent systems for tracking funds and monitoring progress toward objectives.
Principle of Assessment
Tailor programs based on careful research and understanding of local conditions and best practices in international development assistance.
Principle of Results
Focus resources through programs of sufficient size and scale to achieve clearly defined and measurable objectives critical to a country's needs. Maximize cost efficiency and timely delivery of services while ensuring objectives are met.
Chairman HYDE. Ambassador Larson.
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STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ALAN P. LARSON, UNDER SECRETARY FOR ECONOMIC, BUSINESS AND AGRICULTURAL AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Mr. LARSON. Mr. Chairman and distinguished Members, thank you very much for holding this hearing. I think we all are still trying to comprehend the magnitude of the human cost of the Indian Ocean tsunami.
I would like at the outset, Mr. Chairman, to congratulate Administrator Natsios and USAID, as well as Assistant Secretary Rodman, General Allen and the entire team at the Defense Department, and the U.S. military for their quick and effective response in the field. They really did us proud.
Immediately after the tsunami hit, my colleague at the State Department, Under Secretary Grossman, pulled together an interagency team that met daily for many, many days to coordinate our response, as our Ambassadors did in the field. He also led an international core group that was crucial in getting the international community on the right track at the very beginning. One of the things that was remarkable about this disaster was that the State Department had 30,000 inquiries from Americans who were looking after loved ones. Through hard work in Washington and the field, we have been able to reduce that number of 30,000 to 128 right now that are not accounted for. We currently estimate that the number of Americans who lost their lives, or we presume to be dead, at 34, and we are relatively confident that that number isn't going to rise much.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We moved quickly as well, along with other creditor nations, to make it clear that we would not expect debt payments from those affected countries that requested forbearance, at least not until the World Bank and the IMF had finished their needs assessment that will help these countries understand their financial difficulties and their reconstruction challenges.
As we move from a response that is more weighted toward reconstruction than relief, the State Department, working with USAID, is organizing the interagency process to develop a long term response, and we plan to have an ad hoc task force that will help keep us focused as the weeks and months move on.
As Mr. Natsios said, the primary responsibility for rebuilding lies with the affected people, governments, and regions, and our reconstruction effort is going to reflect their priorities and plans. We expect to work very closely with the international community, with the multilateral banks, and the United Nations on that task.
Clearly one top priority is going to be the establishment of an early warning system. The United States presently operates a tsunami warning system for the Pacific, and we do that jointly with UNESCO. We support making this system global, including the Indian Ocean and other areas that are at risk.
The brunt of the disaster hit some politically sensitive regions. In Indonesia and Sri Lanka, governments and rebel groups put aside their differences to allow relief to get through. On January 18, the Sri Lanka Government announced that it was sending heavy vehicles and generators to northern Sri Lanka at the request of the Tamil Tigers. In Indonesia there are some reports of continued conflict, but aid operations have been moving forward. We agree that we need to look for opportunities to help the parties in Sri Lanka and Indonesia further defuse those conflicts and move toward peace.
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A key requirement for the reconstruction process will be accurate damage and needs assessments. Working with local authorities, the World Bank is leading that effort, and working also with USAID and other significant bilateral donors. An initial damage assessment for Indonesia has indicated damages on the order of $4.5 billion. The Sri Lanka assessment is being finalized this week. Those will be followed, Mr. Chairman, by more detailed and comprehensive assessments within a couple of months.
As we work with affected countries on reconstruction, we want to mobilize resources that are already available, including using existing programs. For example, the staff at the Millennium Challenge Corporation have reached out to Sri Lanka, which is an eligible country for the MCC, and are working with them to make sure that Sri Lanka's proposal includes an element of reconstruction from the tsunami.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation has developed programs to support private investment in these regions. This is something that is particularly interesting to Indonesia, which sees a role for private investment in infrastructure reconstruction.
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency is working to support small businesses and has proposed a tsunami venture capital fund. The United States is consulting affected countries on ways to facilitate reconstruction, including expanded cooperation on trade.
It will be very important to reach out to the private sector. The private sector response has been magnificent. Former Presidents Bush and Clinton are playing a major role in raising contributions. According to the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, these private donations from NGOs, individuals and businesses now approach $580 million.
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The Chamber of Commerce held a very important event here in Washington on the 18th of January that indicates to me a continuing interest on the part of American businesses to really make an ongoing contribution in this area.
The President's early and initial commitment of $350 million was instrumental in helping us move quickly. As more comprehensive analysis of needs for reconstruction become available, I expect we will need additional United States funding. We would agree with those who say that we should not lose track of this crisis as headlines move to new issues. At the same time, we don't want to have the money and the effort for this response come at the expense of other important programs.
In closing, I would like to thank the Congress for its strong response. We look forward to working with the Congress as the United States continues its efforts to help the people of the region restore their livelihoods, rebuild their homes and mend their own communities. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Larson follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ALAN P. LARSON, UNDER SECRETARY FOR ECONOMIC, BUSINESS AND AGRICULTURAL AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
The Indian Ocean tsunami was truly horrific, and we are still uncovering, over a month later, the full human cost of this disaster. Some of you on this committee have been out to visit the region, and have seen first-hand the unimaginable destruction of whole towns erased in the span of minutes. According to the best estimates to-date by affected country governments and the UN, more than 162,000 are reported dead in seven countries over two continents. The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) estimates that children comprise more than one-third of all deaths.
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Americans have great sympathy and respect for the people of these devastated communities, who have come together to search for the living, bury the dead, care for those who have lost families and livelihoods and rebuild their lives. People suffering their own personal losses are helping others. It is the people of the affected countries and regions who will set the priorities and goals for rebuilding after this disaster. Leaders in these areas are already working to organize their own efforts and to identify what help they will need from abroad.
The United States was there to help in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, and we will continue to be there to help as the countries move toward recovery and reconstruction. President Bush set the tone for our response when he said ''. . . We join the world in feeling enormous sadness over a great human tragedy. . . . The carnage is of a scale that defies comprehension. . . . As the people of this devastated region struggle to recover, we offer our love and compassion, and our assurance that America will be there to help.''
The United States government and its people have responded to those in need with speed and generosity. The President committed an initial $350 million in U.S. government assistance for relief and reconstruction assistance. U.S. private sector donations to date are estimated to exceed that amount.
The United States has also agreed, along with members of the Paris Club of creditor nations that, given the magnitude and severity of the disaster, we would not expect debt payments from affected countries that request such forbearance, subject to national laws, until the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have assessed the impacted countries' financial and reconstruction needs. Should the Administration decide to proceed with such treatment for countries that request it, we first would seek the required legislative authority and appropriations. We have also been consulting with potentially interested countries to make sure they understand that any funds for debt relief could reduce funds available for reconstruction.
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I want to thank and commend the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. militaryour first responders, who provided critical humanitarian relief. I also want to acknowledge the outstanding contributions of the U.S. Pacific Command. My colleagues on the panel will supply you with more details on the remarkable things they accomplished to speed assistance to those in need, and to facilitate the work of the United Nations, NGOs and other donors.
The State Department has worked continuously throughout the crisis. We facilitated the work of the militaryincluding through establishing Status of Forces Agreements and basing arrangementsand USAID in the region. Immediately after the tsunami struck, my colleague, Under Secretary Marc Grossman, called together and led an international core group that included Australia, India, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan and the UN to coordinate the first stages of the international response. This core group ensured one country did not duplicate the efforts of others, and identified and filled needs and gaps in the first days. As the UN mobilized and took on a central role in the relief response, the core group passed its coordinating functions to the UN.
It is an indication of the strength of our partnership with these countries, that we were able to rapidly pull together this group, which never had a physical meeting and established no bureaucracy in addressing these critical issues. The experience of this group sets an example of how to deal cooperatively and effectively with international partners in a crisis situation of this scale. Such cooperation can only occur because of our well-established relationships with like-minded democracies.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Department has also worked to help American families locate their loved-ones in affected countries. We received 30,000 inquiries from all over the country and around the world about missing Americans. Within hours of the disaster, the State Department set up a task force to respond to these inquiries, and our embassies abroad and consular officers here in Washington, DC, have worked around the clock to locate Americans. We have identified 15,112 inquiries on specific individuals, and currently have 128 unresolved cases. We estimate the number of Americans who lost their lives, or are presumed dead, at 34. We are hopeful that this number will remain close to its present level.
As the President said, ''The government of the United States is committed to helping the people who suffer. We're committed today and we will be committed tomorrow.'' As we begin the transition from immediate relief operations to longer-term reconstruction, the State Department, in close cooperation with USAID, is leading the U.S. government in organizing our medium- and long-term assistance plans. I anticipate in the near term that we will establish a working group that will focus on medium and long-term reconstruction. We are working across the U.S. government and in close liaison with the private sector to ensure internal coordination, efficient use of resources, full deployment of our policy tools and effective external communication of U.S. priorities.
These U.S. activities have been in support of the tremendous efforts being made by the governments, people and organizations in affected countries. I want to emphasize the outstanding efforts being made by these countries to care for their own people and to accelerate the process of reconstruction:
The governments of India and Thailand responded rapidly to the crisis, marshaled resources quickly and have been able to extend help to other affected nations. India, which suffered tremendously itself from the tsunami, provided assistance to the Maldives and Indonesia, and continues to play a prominent role in assisting Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Indonesia with immediate relief;
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Thailand made available to the United States, the UN and the international community the use of the facilities at Utapao as a regional hub for humanitarian assistance to the affected areas;
Indonesia quickly adapted several previously planned infrastructure and development meetings to include initial tsunami damage assessments and provide a venue to discuss relief and reconstruction;
Sri Lanka on January 17 announced a reconstruction master plan developed by the Presidential Task Force for Rebuilding the Nation, which coordinates assessments. Sri Lanka intends to post a comprehensive project listing on the internet, and hopes to have projects initiated in January; and
The Maldives created a board on January 10 to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of the Tsunami Relief and Reconstruction Fund.
Coordination on the ground was challenging at first, particularly in the health sector, but is being steadily improved. In evaluating coordination efforts it is important to remember the sheer scale of the disaster and the immensity of the international response, and that in the early stages of response, speed can be more important than coordination. As the UN takes over coordination responsibilities they are looking candidly at how well UN agencies, donors and NGOs are working together, and are assisting affected countries in managing the aid flows.
The response of the U.S. private sector and non-profit community has also been admirable in its speed and notable in its depth. According to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, to-date U.S. relief organizations have raised over $580 million for tsunami relief efforts from individuals, private foundations and businesses. Members of the American international business community and U.S. NGOs operating overseas are in many places on the ground in Asia helping. President Bush has enlisted former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to raise further funds from the private sector and American citizens.
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U.S. companies and NGOs are stepping forward to assist in the long task of helping the people affected by the tsunami rebuild their infrastructure, homes and livelihoods. On January 18, the American Chamber of Commerce brought together U.S business executives with ambassadors and representatives of affected countries to discuss ways the private sector can connect its donations and offers of assistance with needs in affected countries. I want to recognize all of the individuals, companies, private foundations and NGOs that have contributed, directly or indirectly, to the relief effort. Private Americans are showing the world the true generosity of the American people. They are showing the world American values in action.
The support of the international community has also been remarkable. Many countries have given cash, in-kind contributions and military support. Financial and on-the-ground support from the United Nations Development Groupespecially the UN Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs, the World Food Program, the UN Development Program, UNICEF and the World Health Organizationand other international organizations has rapidly poured into the region:
The UN Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs estimates that over $5.3 billion has been pledged as grant aid;
The multilateral development banks moved quickly to identify resources, with the World Bank providing $412 million, the Asian Development Bank $675 million and the Islamic Development Bank $500 million. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank are drafting, or in some cases have completed, initial damage assessments, which will form the basis for longer-term needs assessments; and
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The International Monetary Fund has identified loan options and has shifted Sri Lanka's $113 million debt due in 2005 by one year to 2006.
I want to acknowledge all those who have contributed to this effort, and note especially the coordinating role the UN has played on the ground. We all must now stay focused, coordinated and committed, because the needs will become clearer, even as the publicity fades.
As we begin the transition from assisting with immediate relief to the task of medium- and long-term reconstruction, we face a daunting challenge. The sheer scale of the destruction is nearly unimaginable. As Secretary Powell said after touring the area: ''In the course of my career as a soldier and more recently as a diplomat, I've been involved in many, many humanitarian relief operations. I've had to respond as a commander to any number of natural disasters over the years, but nothing in my experience prepared me for this disaster.'' This means the task of those affected is not only to rebuild physical infrastructure, but also to rebuild communities and social structuresto rebuild lives.
The primary responsibility for rebuilding lies with the affected people, governments and regions, and reconstruction plans will reflect their priorities and development goals. The United States wishes to work with the international community and those affected to help rebuild not only what was lost, but to build a better future. Together we can work to address key development challenges, such as poverty alleviation, local empowerment, environmental stewardship, good governance and long-term, sustained economic growth.
We also have a chance to do our best to ensure that a disaster like this does not wreak the same human toll in the future. The Bush Administration supports creating a global tsunami warning system that will cover all countries vulnerable to such natural disasters and we will be working internationally to make this a reality. Efforts to move forward on a warning system have been under discussion in a number of international fora, including the UN General Assembly, which resumed in special session on January 18, and the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, which held a special tsunami session on January 20. The internationally coordinated Group on Earth Observations (GEO), currently with 54 member nations and open to all nations, will hold its third Earth Observations Summit on February 16 in Brussels to adopt a 10-year implementation plan for a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). The U.S. is committed to work through GEO to develop tsunami warning systems in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and anywhere coastal communities are threatened by tsunamis, using the existing Pacific Tsunami Warning System as a model. The current system is coordinated under UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, a GEOSS partner. We will also continue to show leadership on this issue through the G8. While we cannot stop natural disasters, we can work to put in place mechanisms for warning coastal communities of impending disaster, so that their impacts are reduced as much as possible.
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The brunt of the disaster hit some politically sensitive regions. In both Indonesia and Sri Lanka, governments and rebel groups put aside their differences to an extent that allowed relief to get through. Despite some public statements by the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE), local LTTE and government officials in many areas have cooperated in delivering assistance, and there is reason to hope that more formal mechanisms will be established to continue such cooperation during reconstruction. Most recently, on January 18 the President of Sri Lanka's office announced that the government of Sri Lanka was sending heavy vehicles and generators to northern Sri Lanka at the request of the LTTE. In Indonesia, despite ceasefire calls, there are reports of continued conflict, but aid operations have not been impeded. The United States will look for opportunities to help the parties in Sri Lanka and Indonesia further defuse those conflicts and move toward peace.
It will be vitally important for public and private donors to work in close, coordinated fashion with each other, with local governments and with the agencies conducting reconstruction needs assessments so that resources are used wisely and effectively. Each one of the affected countries has a different set of needs, and we have to assess those needs to ensure we are using our assistance wisely. Working with local authorities, the UN, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, bilateral aid agencies like the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation and USAID, have already completed initial and preliminary damage assessments for Indonesia and Sri Lanka, which estimates preliminary damage costs to be $4.5 billion in Indonesia and between $1.4 and 1.5 billion in Sri Lanka.
These early assessments may be followed by some updates, and sectoral cost estimates would be appraised more deeply during the preparation of financing operations by the Bank, ADB and other financiers in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The United States is coordinating its own efforts with others' and is encouraging continued close collaboration as they develop longer-term needs assessments and prepare for a coordinated donor response. We are strongly urging the multilateral development banks to complete the long-term assessments as quickly as possible.
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In addition to coordination, transparency is also key to ensuring effective use of the massive outpouring of assistance. We welcome the initiative of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in launching a new mechanism to track and account for official assistance. Sri Lanka and Indonesia have already outlined extensive plans for ensuring accountability and transparency in the use of the funds. Indonesia has also accepted the offer of Price Waterhouse Coopers accounting firm to audit assistance fund disbursements. The U.S. government has its own stringent domestic requirements to ensure that money is accounted for and we will meet those requirements. We also call on NGOs to meet similar standards of transparency and accountability.
In our response to the tsunami crisis, the United States demonstrated the generosity of our people, and the importance of American leadership. We now have the opportunity to work with affected countries and regions on the longer term task of reconstruction. The United States is uniquely equipped and willing to contribute our resources to employ the many tools at our disposal in working with tsunami-affected regions to build a better future.
There are some resources we can mobilize quickly by adjusting programs and facilities to meet needs that affected countries and regions have identified. For example:
Immediately following the tsunami, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) officials were in contact with the government of Sri Lanka, one of the 17 countries eligible for funding from the Millennium Challenge Account. In response to Sri Lanka's request, MCC has offered to work with the Sri Lankan government to revise their earlier compact proposal (submitted in November 2004) to address the long-term reconstruction needs following the tsunami;
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Indonesia is seeking to minimize local and international trade barriers to prevent price increases. The U.S. has been in active consultations with affected countries' trade ministries to discuss ways to help facilitate reconstruction efforts, such as extending preferential trade access. We will be consulting with domestic stakeholders and with the Congress as this process continues; and
The housing and fishing industries were hard-hit in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Indonesia reports housing as the largest dollar-value loss, with environment (which includes fisheries) and fishing as the next highest in damage estimates. In Sri Lanka, tourism, which accounts for 20% of GDP, was severely damaged, housing and transport sectors were hit hard, and fisheries were decimated. USAID is already providing cash-for work opportunities in community clean up activities and assisting micro- and small-entrepreneurs. USAID plans to develop public/private partnerships to address particular needs in the areas of tourism, fisheries and livelihoods.
In addition to these targeted new efforts, the U.S. can also look to its existing development policy to guide its support.. Over the last four years, the United States has helped shape new thinking about the effectiveness and application of international developmentapproaching developing countries as partners who are competent and willing to address their own development challenges. This approach also seeks to take advantage of all available resources for development, especially those marshaled by the private sector. At Indonesia's recent Infrastructure Summit, for example, the Government of Indonesia heavily stressed the importance of private sector investment to the country's recovery from the tsunami and its overall future.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Some of the existing programs in the U.S. development toolkit that can also support medium- to long-term tsunami reconstruction:
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): In 2003, developed countries sent $193 billion in foreign direct investment to developing countries, 60 percent more than total official development assistance (ODA) flows to these same countries. In 2003, U.S. FDI to Indonesia was $72 million, and $14 million to Sri Lanka. The U.S. government is discussing with Indonesia a business climate pilot project to promote entrepreneurship and increased investment, for example, by reducing the time needed to secure a business license. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation has established a special line of credit of up to $150 million to mobilize U.S. private sector investment in reconstruction.
Small Business: A key component of a balanced and effective development strategy is to help ''unleash'' the private sectors of the developing world via the establishment of small businesses. Currently, the U.S. Trade Development Agency is working with Thailand on a venture capital conference for tsunami recovery, which will provide technical assistance to help small businesses access financing for their business recovery efforts. We also plan to help Thailand with the creation and operation of its proposed ''Tsunami Venture Capital Fund.'' We are prepared to offer this assistance to other countries as well, depending on internal budgetary resources.
Trade: The World Bank estimates that successful completion of the Doha Development Round World Trade Organization negotiations could lift more than 140 million people out of poverty and add $350 billion annually to developing country incomes. The U.S. is a particularly strong market for countries affected by the tsunami, with an average of 34 percent of affected-country exports flowing to the United States.
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Trade will be an important part of U.S. reconstruction efforts of the tsunami-affected countries. To be effective, trade initiatives must be informed by a clear understanding of the needs of the victims of this disaster. To this end, the U.S. has been in active consultations with affected countries' trade ministries and with their Ambassadors in Washington in recent days.
Based on the needs and opportunities identified in those consultations, we will work closely with domestic stakeholders and with the Congress to develop responsive proposals that leverage available trade tools and initiatives. For example, we are currently in Free Trade Agreement negotiations with Thailand, and we believe conclusion of this agreement will help with reconstruction efforts. We also plan to advance our work under the President's Enterprise for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Initiative, including through Trade Investment Framework Agreements with such countries as Indonesia and Malaysia, and strengthening our existing TIFA agreement with Sri Lanka. In addition, the International Trade Commission, an independent agency separate from the Administration, will consider whether the tsunami's impact on the affected countries' industries warrants a review of their anti-dumping finding against some shrimp products from these countries.
Remittances: In 2002 the World Bank reported that remittances reached $1.3 billion to Sri Lanka and to Indonesia. These flows can provide significant supplemental financial assistance to households, especially during times of need. The key is having access to these financial services on a regular basis. Since 2002, the US has been working with a number of countries in South East Asia, like Indonesia and Thailand, on examining how to improve access to and the efficiency of remittance services through the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) remittance initiative. This work has focused on how to improve data on remittance flows, strengthening financial infrastructure to support cross border flows, expanding awareness on how to use remittance services (through financial education) and balancing regulatory requirements to support remittance services.
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Political stability and accountability: Investment flourishes best in a stable political environment. Political stability and an accountable government are also essential for U.S. assistance to be delivered. In Indonesia, USAID has supported the Forum for Aceh Recovery (a group made up of local non-governmental organizations, academics, religious leaders, etc.) for over a decade. USAID continues to support this group, which is now playing a key role in relief and reconstruction. The Forum for Aceh Recovery gives a voice to Acehnese civil society with the central government as they dialogue on the future of reconstruction. This organization can also serve as a civil society ''watch-dog'' group for implementation and to help prevent corruption. In the tsunami affected districts, USAID's ongoing programs will continue to create opportunities to foster accountability and transparency in the provision of relief services and reconstruction.
My colleague Andrew Natsios will outline some of the priorities that new reconstruction programs targeted to the tsunami will include.
The philosophy that underlies the U.S. government's approach to the longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction of the nations affected by the Tsunami is the same philosophy that underlies our overall approach to development assistance: each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development; all resources, including public and private resources, trade, investment, and other external resources, as well as official assistance must be tapped to achieve sustainable economic growth; good governance, sound economic policies and responsive democratic institutions are essential to growth; and aid is used most effectively by those countries taking steps to improve governance and create the economic environment conducive to utilizing effectively the full-range of resources for development.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In closing I would like to thank the Congress for its strong support of the those struck by this terrible tragedy. There is a long way yet to go before those affected can restore livelihoods, rebuild homes and mend communities. The Administration looks forward to continuing to work with you as the U.S. supports the tsunami victims in their efforts.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you, Ambassador. Mr. Rodman.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE PETER W. RODMAN, ASSISTANT SECRETARY, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Mr. RODMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't have a prepared statement to submit, but I would, if I may, make a few remarks briefly.
First, I want to pay tribute to the interagency cooperation that Alan Larson referred to, and Andrew Natsios. This crisis has been an extraordinary event. I have a lot of experience in the government, and I have not seen such a large enterprise conducted so smoothly, with such a degree of integration of the efforts of all agencies of the Executive Branch. The Department of Defense was pleased to be in support of a U.S. Government-wide effort, at the direction of the President, operationally under the leadership of the Department of State and USAID.
Ambassador Larson referred to some of the interagency mechanisms, but I can say that support was mutual. Whenever we in DoD had a problem with overflight clearances or status of forces issues, we would just raise this at a meeting, and almost instantly our diplomats would be going into the relevant governments and solving these problems. So the degree of integration and coordination on a daily basis, even hourly basis, was extraordinary, and we were very pleased to be part of that.
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Second, I want to pay tribute to the men and women in uniform, particular out in the field, who organized a truly unprecedented and extraordinary military effort. Our Commander in the Pacific, Admiral Tom Fargo, commanded this operation, and he was on the move on the very first day.
Lieutenant General Rusty Blackman, who set up this joint task force, which was headquartered in Utapao, Thailand, deserves a lot of credit for what he organized.
In Washington, the Pentagon's point man in the interagency process and liaison with other governments and with international agencies was my colleague, Brigadier General John Allen, and he made a tremendous contribution to this effort.
Third, let me just give a few statistics of the military operation. At the peak of the effort there were nearly 15,000 American military personnel engaged in the operation26 ships, 58 helicopters, 43 fixed-wing aircraft. That represented about $30 billion worth of capital investment in U.S. military capability that demonstrated what it could do to respond to a crisis of this kind.
Incremental costs are a little harder to estimate. The figures, I am sure, will be refined, but the operational costs are on an order of magnitude, I would say, of about $160 million covering December and January. Again, I am sure the figure may change, but that is what we think the operations have involved.
Andrew may have better numbers, but I have 2,200 tons of relief supplies and 260,000 gallons of fresh water that we delivered.
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Finally, it is clear, as Andrew Natsios mentioned, that the relief operation is now transitioning into a longer-term reconstruction effort, and other capable agencies in the U.S. Government, internationally, and of course the concerned governments themselves are capable now of taking more of the responsibility, taking the main responsibility into their hands. It isn't any longer something that the U.S. Department of Defense has to be so heavily engaged in.
So we are in the process of handing a lot of this responsibility over. The headquarters that was set up for relief in Thailand has closed its doors. The headquarters for Sri Lanka will do the same this week. In Indonesia, because of the scale of the damage, that headquarters is still in business, and the task force is still in business as long as necessary.
So we are doing this transition carefully, flexibly. We will be guided by what is right and what is still needed in light of the circumstances on the ground.
Again, I want to pay tribute to my colleagues around the government and to the cooperation that we all put forward in this effort. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Rodman.
General Allen, I understand you are here to be helpful with questions. Did you have a statement you wanted to make?
General ALLEN. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I would like to make one early statement, if I may, sir.
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Chairman HYDE. By all means.
STATEMENT OF BRIGADIER GENERAL JOHN ALLEN, PRINCIPAL DIRECTOR FOR ASIAN AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
General ALLEN. I think it is important to continue to illustrate at every opportunity how quickly the U.S. Government swung into action to address this crisis. I know that my colleagues in USAID and the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in the State Department were getting phone calls within minutes of the first realization of this crisis, the first realization that we may have a true human disaster on our hands.
I think what is not necessarily as well known, and I would like to take just a moment to illustrate it, is how quickly the Pacific Command and the United States military began to go to work to address this issue.
When the tsunami struck, it was 0800 local time in Indonesia on the 26th of December, which was late afternoon still in Hawaii. Early indications by the various sources that we had gave us the very distinct impression that this was going to be a very substantial disaster, and was going to require, almost immediately, a military reaction.
The very next morning at 0800 Admiral Fargo made the decision to stand up an operational planning group and to activate the Joint Operations Center. So literally within minutes of our first notification that there was a potential human disaster, the Pacific Command began to organize formally for the process of addressing this.
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Now, I would like to go through a very brief timeline, and I will be very brief. At 0800 on the 26th we activated the Joint Operations Center. That day was a day full of planning and activity as we began to assess the extent and the scope of this disaster. Nine minutes after midnight on the 27th of December, early morning hours, we issued our first deployment order for eight C130s to start to move. An hour and a half later, we issued another deployment order for three P3s, to conduct aerial reconnaissance and search and rescue, to get ready to deploy. Those P3s were in the air by 9 o'clock that morning en route to the region.
The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group was in port with the sailors enjoying a holiday leave period in Hong Kong. They received an immediate return message, and reloaded onto the five ships of the carrier strike group, and got underway at 1000 on the 27th to make the 1,000-mile run at best speed into the Gulf of Thailand to be further tasked based on what potential emergency was confronting us.
At 1000 on the 27th, the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, six ships based around a landing assault ship, the Bonhomme Richard, with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked, was in the vicinity of Guam. It was told to continue steaming at best speed to arrive in the disaster area.
Now, the Bonhomme Richard and the 15th MEU were inbound to Iraq at the time and their thinking was along different lines, but they immediately redirected their mission and headed for the Gulf of Thailand and the Strait of Malacca.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC At 1107, the Pacific Command, on the 27th, issued an order to General Blackman, the commanding general of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, to immediately begin planning to deploy his headquarters in order to create the higher headquarters necessary for this crisis, and from that afternoon on Admiral Fargo and his staff were on the phone to Ambassadors in the region and military leaders of the various countries attempting to assess the crisis.
Your military moved very quickly. The men and women of your military are something that we can be very proud of. We thank you very much and are deeply grateful for the support of this Committee and the United States Congress for giving us the resources and for supporting this capability which played out in such an important way in addressing this humanitarian disaster.
That is all I have now. Thank you, sir.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you very much. Now, we will entertain questions from the Members. I express the hope that the questions can be brief, because we have another panel, three more witnesses, and more questions. So in the interest of expedition, if nothing else, I would appreciate minimalist questions. But, nonetheless, Mr. Leach.
Mr. LEACH. I will be brief with one very precise question directed to Mr. Rodman.
Mr. Secretary, in terms of early warning, we have a model through UNESCO in our efforts for the Pacific. One of the theories is that we need an Indian Ocean early warning system. Another theory is we have to take a much more expansive look at worldwide warning systems, and I think the Congress is looking at a very expansive way.
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But one of the capacities that has been developed that relates to an issue that this Administration is somewhat uncomfortable with is the capacities that have been developed for comprehensive test ban monitoring, which has a lot to do with earthquake monitoring. Has the DoD looked into the implications of CTB monitoring tied to natural disaster monitoring?
Mr. RODMAN. I don't know the answer to that, Congressman. I can get you a response.
Mr. LEACH. Fair enough. Thank you.
[The information referred to was not received prior to printing.]
Mr. NATSIOS. Can I just add something?
Mr. LEACH. Yes.
Mr. NATSIOS. Getting lost in the discussion of an early warning system, tsunamis in the Indian Ocean are extremely rare. Typhoons in the Indian Ocean are very common. They have killed far more people than tsunamis have.
The Bangladesh typhoon of 1970 killed 300,000 people. The tsunami of 1991, and I was in charge of the response in 1991, killed 138,866 people, just in Bangladesh. We put in an early warning system working with NOAA. It is a community-based alarm system that is connected to our weather satellites.
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We did the same thing at the request of the Vietnamese Government, working with international institutions. And now working with other countries we have created a chain of these early warning typhoon systems in the South Pacific islands.
So what I have been urging the heads of state to think about is that the alarm system is the same alarm system you would use for either a typhoon or a tsunami. If we put a tsunami early warning system in, we need to make sure it is integrated with a system that warns people about a typhoon, which is much more common. So we should have a joint system, so that people receive the right kind of guidance depending on the situation.
The detection devices will be different. One is a weather satellite. For typhoons you have a few days' warning. For tsunamis you have a couple of hours' warning in most cases. Those will be buoy-based in the ocean. But they will be connected to the same alarm system and the same community-based network that will tell people to get away from the coast right now.
The last time there was a typhoon in Bangladesh, 6 million people left the coast within a day based on the alarm system that we and other donors installed with the Bangladesh Government 30 years ago after that terrible 1970 response.
So we should do this in an integrated fashion and look at the real risks, not just of tsunamis, but also of other phenomena, natural disasters.
Mr. LEACH [presiding]. Fair enough. Thank you.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Faleomavaega.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask unanimous consent that the full text of the statement of our Senior Ranking Member, Mr. Tom Lantos, be made part of the record.
Mr. LEACH. Without objection. And anybody's statement can be expanded as part of the record.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Lantos follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE TOM LANTOS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. Chairman, one month ago today the entire world witnessed the devastation caused when a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake unleashed a series of tsunamis. They killed 200,000 people and made more than 5 million homeless in 11 countries. Experts estimate that more than 30 percent of those who died were children, and that 1.5 million more children have been left homeless, hungry, and orphaned.
The survivors must now face the enormous task of rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of the tragedy. Many are vulnerable to disease, hunger, psychological trauma, and exploitation. Their homes and their livelihoods have been destroyed. I call on my colleagues in Congress and the Administration to continue working with the international community to help the tsunami victims.
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Mr. Chairman, in the last six months, numerous natural disasters have taxed the resources and expertise of our government. In addition to the tsunamis in December that ripped through Southeast Asia and rammed into the horn of Africa, in September and October several hurricanes left a wake of destruction in our own country as well as many Caribbean island nations.
In Haiti, thick mud almost entirely buried the city of Gonaives, displacing nearly the entire population of 200,000. In Grenada, the U.N. estimated that Hurricane Ivan wiped out 90 percent of all homes, and destroyed or severely damaged many other structures, including schools, hospitals and clinics, and roads. The United Nations estimates that Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne caused $2.2 billion in damage and lost economic activity in Grenada, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas, and the number could well be higher than that.
Congress responded to the call for help in the wake of the Caribbean hurricanes by approving $100 million ? twice the amount of the Administration's initial request for the disasters ? in emergency and reconstruction assistance for the most affected islands. Much of this aid will be used to repair or rebuild homes, clinics, schools, roads, and water and sanitation systems.
Mr. Chairman, as we continue to bolster the rebuilding effort in the Caribbean and help the surviving victims of the tsunami piece together their lives through reconstruction of their homes, health facilities, schools, and other buildings, we should ensure that these structures are better able to withstand the forces of nature that inevitably will confront them over time.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I believe that our recent experience helping the government and people of El Salvador rebuild after the earthquakes of 2001 provides valuable lessons for our current and future reconstruction efforts.
According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, the two massive earthquakes that devastated El Salvador in 2001 cost nearly 1,200 Salvadoran lives, injured another 8,100 people, and wreaked more than $2 billion in damage, including destroying or severely damaging approximately 275,000 homes.
In response, we provided nearly $90 million to El Salvador over two years in humanitarian relief and reconstruction assistance. These funds were used to build 26,000 permanent houses, rebuild and re-equip almost 49 schools, repair or reconstruct 30 childcare centers, and support other worthy projects.
Two weeks ago, volunteers for the CASA Corps and Airline Ambassadors International visited El Salvador to assess the soundness of U.S.-financed reconstruction. The team included licensed building inspectors, engineers, architects, and building contractors from several states. Two of the delegation's leaders were Dave and Nancy Rivard ? extraordinary individuals whom I am proud to call friends and neighbors from my congressional district.
Although the team's report still has not been finalized, I understand that the team generally found that U.S.-financed reconstruction was, by far, much better built than older structures, as well as other post-earthquake reconstruction.
But the team did find some significant deficiencies in construction. Some schools that were rebuilt with U.S. taxpayer money did not have proper emergency exits from classrooms on the second floor. And safety rails on second floors were not tall enough or properly spaced to prevent schoolchildren from falling over or through them. These are but two examples of shortcomings that could have been addressed through simple, low-cost adjustments during construction ? adjustments that might save young lives.
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Mr. Chairman, I intend to introduce legislation that aims to cultivate a culture of code compliance within developing countries through exchanges of building-industry professionals, educational seminars, and other expertise-sharing measures.
Congressional colleagues have shown an interest in this subject by their involvement in related legislation in the past. My bill is meant to further improve U.S.-financed reconstruction after natural disasters, to help ensure not only that these structures better withstand the onslaught of nature, but that they do not themselves become hazards as hurricane-force winds transform loose door frames into deadly projectiles.
We must ensure that U.S.-financed projects meet basic safety requirements and are better able to withstand the forces of nature. The last thing we'd want is for the plaques on new buildings bearing the U.S. Agency for International Development shield to become known as symbols of a lurking dangerthey should be signs of quality.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. As a follow-up to your question to Mr. Natsios, I just wanted to know, Do you think we need, or do we require a Federal statute to do this early warning system? Or can this be done administratively without requiring any statutory requirements?
Mr. NATSIOS. It does not require a statute. In fact, the first systems we put in place in Vietnam and Bangladesh got no public notice. I am not sure anybody was even aware that we did it, but they are in place, and they do work.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We like congressional interest, but there is no legal requirement that we have authorization to do it. It is already in the statute that created USAID and the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance that we can do preventive measures for natural disasters, and this falls in that category.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. But when it comes to funding and actually putting in the equipment
Mr. NATSIOS. We need funding.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. So in a way it does require congressional authorization?
Mr. NATSIOS. It needs appropriations, which we hope will be in this bill that you are going to get very shortly, a supplemental budget.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I wanted to note also in our visit with Chairman Leach that thousands of lives could have been saved if women and children knew the characteristics of what a tidal wave does. It is really, really unfortunate, at least the information that was given to us, that when the water was sucked out a thousand yards from the beaches or from the reefs, children went playing, catching the fish that were flopping all over the place, not realizing they should be running in the opposite direction rather than going forward, catching the fish. And it is really unfortunate, the basic education that needs to be brought out to the public.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There was a recent article about some implication about how stingy America has been in providing foreign assistance. I just wanted to note that there was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, and I believe a report brought out by USAID, and this report actually reported that $56 billion was donated by Americans in providing international assistance for the year 2000.
How many people know about this? And 60 percent of that $56 billion is from private donors. I want to note for the record, Mr. Chairman, the generosity of the American people when it comes to disasters and tragedies like this, and that we are not at all stingy when it comes to providing assistance for other peoples of the world.
And I would appreciate, Mr. Natsios, if you could help me, Were the other years, 2001 to 2004, to be made part of the record? How much did we give? I have cited only the year 2000, $56 billion in international assistance. I would like to know the total over the last 4 years. Maybe we need to share that information with the other countries of the world as well.
I noted also with interest, Secretary Larson, that you mentioned the Indiana University study on philanthropy, could you provideI would really appreciate any other records that could be provided for the record in terms of the findings of how our country compares to other countries when it comes to giving generously to those in need.
There was a note also, Secretary Rodman, that the Indonesian Government has issued an order that all United States military presence from Indonesia dissipate by the month of March, or just disappear. I don't know how this is going to be done. But how does this play in terms ofwe are there to help, we are not there to shoot anybody.
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Are there some serious political problems here as to why the Indonesian Government does not want United States military present to help the Indonesian people, especially those in Aceh and other regions affected by this tragedy?
Mr. RODMAN. It is true that an Indonesian Vice President made a comment about March. But we have been assured by the Indonesian Government that this was misinterpreted, that the Indonesians have set for themselves the date of about 3 months as a target date for them to take over full responsibility. It is in no way a deadline for us to depart. We may or may not be there, depending on the need, but we have that assurance from the Indonesian Government.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I certainly want to thank General Allen for the tremendous job that he is doing with DoD in dealing with Asian Pacific issues.
I do want to share with the panel a photo taken by one of the newspapers in our recent visit to Sri Lanka. As you can see, it is about a 30 or 40-foot wall of a wave here catching the people in terms of what a tsunami looks like. I thought it might be of interest. Hopefully the camera catches this so that the public has an idea what a tsunami looks like and the problems and the damage that it causes.
Mr. Chairman, thank you, and I thank the members of the panel for their testimony.
Mr. NATSIOS. If I could just respond to your comment about the stinginess issue.
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The OECD in Paris produces an annual report on donors, which was just issued a week ago. I was at the press conference where it was issued, and we looked up what the figures were for 2 years ago, the last report is for calendar 2003. They don't have one yet for 2004. The United States gave $2.4 billion in humanitarian relief for wars, famines and natural disasters, $2.4 billion, which is 40 percent of the total amount given by all governments in the world.
Forty percent is not stingy. It is a massive amount. No one even remotely approaches us.
Two, the report you are speaking about that was in the Wall Street Journal is on development assistance broadly, a much larger figure that disaster assistance is a subset of.
We, at USAID, did a report called Foreign Aid in the National Interest (FANI Report). It was produced in 2003 maybe, early 2003. It is on our Web site. Anybody can get a copy of it. The last chapter was written by a scholar, Carol Adelman, from the Hudson Institute. And it was on private foreign aid, not the government foreign aid, not money out of the U.S. Government from USAID or the State Department. Private foreign aid used to be about 30 percent of the total aid 30 years ago. Now it is 80 percent. Eighty percent of the foreign aid from the United States is private. American universities, for example, give $1.2 billion in private scholarships, not connected to the Federal Government at all, to students from the developing world.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We call it capacity building. That is foreign aid. The NGOs raise $6-8 billion a year in the United States. Religious institutions raise $3-4 billion. Corporations give billions. And so do American foundations. There are foundations like the Gates Foundation and Rockefeller and Ford, all of them. This is a very unique American phenomena. The Gates Foundation public health budget for the developing world is bigger than any donor aid agency in the world except for USAID. It is a huge budget. It is hundreds of millions of dollars a year from a private foundation.
None of that counts in the figures that are always used to criticize our generosity. Our system is much more mixed than our friends in Europe. Some of the countries in Europe give all of their foreign aid in the public sector. I am not criticizing; it is just a different model.
We have a much more private-public partnership in our society. And if you include the private sector, then for 2002, according to the FANI Report, the U.S. total is $56 billion. By this measure, we have a giving rate that is actually higher than many other countries that are supposed to be more generous. But you have to count the public and the private, which we don't do.
Alan Larson and I have been publicizing this point at every international conference we have gone to. People are getting tired of listening to it. I had someone in Nigeria say to me, from a U.N. agency, ''Andrew, you can't count those scholarships.'' I said, ''Well, what do you mean you can't?'' This is a true example.
The lady who heads the Procurement Reform Commission to stop corruption in procurement in the Nigerian Government, got her degree under Steve Kelman, a friend of mine at the Kennedy School at Harvard, who is the leading expert in procurement in the world. It was a Kennedy School government scholarship.
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That is not foreign aid? Well, of course it is foreign aid. But it is private foreign aid. It is funded by a different source, but it has the same affect.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you.
Mr. LEACH. Thank you. Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I appreciate, we all do very much, the expertise and the leadership of those who are in the panel and many of your colleagues, and a heartfelt thank you for that.
Mr. Natsios, when you said that about the sense of nothing left when you meet with the people there, we had that in our delegation, that exact same sense. Had it not been for the international community, our men and women in uniform, particularly in Aceh, they would have been paralyzed by the numbing consequences of this tsunami.
As a matter of fact, one man in Sri Lanka told us, ''You give us energy. It is not just food, it is not just helping us to rebuild.'' In one case we saw Marines leveling what was left of a school where 250 of the 800 kids had been killed by the tsunami. And that debris would have laid there, probably for a much longer period of time, had the Marines not put that debris on their backs and hauled it out.
I do have a couple of very quick questions. First, on the question of religiously-based or faith-based efforts. Of the 67 reported aid agencies, 30 are faith-based. I am concerned, especially in the intermediate and longer term, and I think many of us are, when we hear statements bylike those by a man by the name of Hasan, who is a leader of the Islamic Democratic Front, who operates a refugee camp in Banda Aceh, who said, and I quote, ''We will chase away any Christian group that does anything beyond offering aid.''
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You mentioned as one of your four points that you wanted to implicate and help these countries expand their capacity. It certainly seems to me that an aid agency that is offering food, clothing, shelter, and medicines, that those volunteers or paid personnel need to be afforded absolute protection to the greatest extent possible by a host country, and absolute would certainly be appreciated. You might want to touch on that in terms of what you are trying to convey to governments.
On the issue of ongoing assistance programs that may have been suspended on the short term to divert fundingmaybe this might be better for the record, but it would be very important to get this. What are we doing in terms of those other programs, food aid and the like, that may be losing capability and capacity and actual resources, due to funds being diverted to the tsunami effort? When will they be restarted and put back on track?
What are we doing on trafficking? I know that there have been some very good out-of-the-blocks efforts to mitigate the effects on traffickers. But it seems to me that there will be some medium- and long-term efforts made by the traffickers. They are a nefarious enterprise. They don't give up easily. There will be people who are continually displaced over the long term. What are we doing to make sure that they are not, especially as adoptions are resumed? So what are we doing on that issue?
And finally a question on microcredit, if I could, because that is something very near and dear to my heart as well, like trafficking. We have about $200 million authorized for microcredit. And obviously we don't want to see a diversion of resources from other microcredit lending either. What is the value added, or the additional cost, if you will, for new microcredit lending to the tsunami affected areas, and will that extra money be in the legislation, so that it is a plus-up, not a diversion of resources?
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Mr. NATSIOS. Let me just answer in the order you asked them, Congressman. These threats are made around the world. The question is not whether they make the threat, it is whether they do anything about it.
We have not received any reports from the DART team or the USAID missions in these countries or the NGO community of any threats or attacks that have been made. I think some of this is a little bit of rhetoric, frankly, for consumption in some of the more radicalized elements.
There is a shift of opinion going on. We did not have very good poll ratings in Indonesia, as you may or may not know. Because of the massive U.S. effortcivilian and military, which has been very visiblethere is a shift of opinion. The Government is very easy to deal with. We are not having trouble with them. But in terms of these radicalized elements, they had some public support. They are losing it as a result of how we are responding. That is not why we are doing it. We are not doing it for that reason. But there is unintended good consequences as a result of the generosity of the entire international community, but particularly the United States. So we have been assured by the governments of these countries that they will protect the NGO community from any abuse. If we get any reports of it, the USAID mission director and the Ambassador will in 2 minutes talk to the ministers, and they promised us help.
But I don't think we are going to have trouble. You know why? Because we are providing support. The best protection for good development, a relief program, is the program itself. The people will say, well, wait a second. These people are helping us, and you are trying to drive them out of the village? Explain this to us.
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The best protection that we have, including in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, we still carry on our programs because there is protection of the community of what we are doing, which is very important.
Two, the President has publicly stated that we will be made whole for the contributions we have takenwe have spent about $90 million so far out of USAID's regular disaster budget. I do not want to divert resources from northern Uganda, from the LRA crisis there, from Darfur.
We now have a peace settlement in southern Sudan. We have responsibilities there. We have a terrible disaster in the Congo that has been going on for years, where millions of people have died. We are not going to divert resources from those areas as well.
In terms of food aid, we did put 30,000 tons of food as a bridge. These countries are self-sufficient in food for the most part. They don't need food aid over the longer term. They need it as a bridge until the markets get functioning and until there is money in people's pockets so they can go out and buy the food themselves, which is what we are doing.
Thirty thousand tons of food is a very small amount compared to the amount of food that we would normally have in our budget yearly. So that is not a big dent. But all of what the President has in the supplemental budget request will reimburse what we have already spent. So our programs will not be affected elsewhere.
And finally in human trafficking, within 10 days we had moved grant money into a Catholic network in Indonesia, into UNICEF in Banda Aceh and to a number of NGOs that have expertise in how to combat trafficking. There is now a coordinated plan to deal with this, and we are doing it. We take it very seriously.
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As you know, there is a comprehensive USAID strategy and State Department strategy for dealing with this worldwide. We are using those principles and integrating them into the programs in these countries. We do know that when there is chaos anywhere in the world, very dark forces take over, not just in trafficking but in drug rings and counterfeiting and all sorts of other things.
But trafficking is a risk when there is chaos like this and a lot of unaccompanied children have been affected. As more children are reunited with their parents, or with their extended family, a grandparent or aunt and uncle, the vulnerability of these children diminishes significantly.
UNICEF is working with the NGO community to set up a registry of children, because in many of these countries there is no birth recording system. So we don't even know if children exist. If the parents have been killed in a family, there is no record that children even exist. And in some cases all of the recordsif they existedhave been destroyed by the tsunami.
So the international community is attempting, in an organized way, to refashion a register that will allow us to identify who the children are so they can be protected from abuse.
Mr. LARSON. Mr. Chairman, can I add one quick comment? It has been very important that all of our organizations, including our NGOs and faith-based organizations, show that their primary purpose in coming is to help the people. There was a problem because of an erroneous press story that suggested otherwise. What was interesting, coming out of that, was that as this story proved to be false, a number of officials, including one of the ministers in the Indonesian Government, made a number of public comments which helped diffuse what could have been a potentially difficult issue.
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And our experience has been that our NGOs, including our faith-based NGOs, are able to do the work that they went there to do.
Mr. LEACH. Thank you. Before recognizing Mr. Blumenauer, let me say on behalf of the Committee that I am very appreciative of the work of Mr. Smith in raisingin the high levels of virtually every government we visitedthe human trafficking issue. I think that was extremely helpful, and likewise with Mr. Blumenauer raising very serious environmental issues with governments involved. I think it was extremely helpful.
Mr. Blumenauer, you are recognized.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. I have had a chance. I would defer to my colleague, Mr. Menendez.
Mr. LEACH. Fair enough.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you. First of all, General, I hope you give our collective thanks to the men and women who are doing a fantastic job in using American military might in a way that is not only good, but also that I think brings enormous goodwill.
I would like to ask a quick question of the Administrator. That is, based upon your last answer to Mr. Smith, am I to assume that when the Congress votes on whatever the supplemental is that includes tsunami relief, that will fully give you all of the replenishment of whatever you have spent and/or will spend as it relates to worldwide disaster assistance?
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Mr. NATSIOS. Yes, if you approve it in the form in which it was submitted. It is designed to reimburse us and provide the money for the rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Mr. MENENDEZ. In other words, your budget that was contemplated for worldwide disaster assistance would be held whole for other things that are happening in the world?
Mr. NATSIOS. That is correct. I might add that is very important. We are borrowing now from these accounts. We are only in the second quarter of the fiscal year. If the supplemental is delayed beyond the end of the third quarter, we will be in trouble.
Mr. MENENDEZ. I fully understand. I want to make sure on the record we know where we are headed.
I would like to reach out for two points and get some of your comments on it. I look forward to the Chairman passing around his draft proposal and seeking input on it.
One is the legislation that I have been looking at in terms of creating an early warning and rapid notification system. It seems to me, having heard what you said, Mr. Administrator, that one of things that was perplexing on December 26th was that in an era of cell phones and instant text messaging and satellites and everything else in terms of communications, it seems that our ability to let people know was somewhat not as effective as we would like to see. And the Pacific tsunami warning center simply wasn't sure, at least by some accounts, who to contact in countries bordering the Indian Ocean that were in danger from the tsunami. They did an excellent job in reaching those they could, but there was far too much confusion, and too much time passed before they could get the warning to those who needed it. It seems to me that is something that simply in this day and age we don't need.
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Secondly, while I agree with you that there are other natural disasters that have far more consequences, and you mentioned some of them in your remarks, that even in the case of sensors that can give us early warnings, that communication is critical, communication from these entities that are doing the sensoring to the countries that ultimately may be affected, including our own possibly in coastal areas. But at the same time that warnings within those countriesyou can have all of the knowledge of information that something is coming, but if you don't have a warning system to villages, to tourists and others, you don't save lives. That is ultimately what our effort is here.
So I hope we will be looking at leading the way in an early warning system as well as a detection system. Detecting is critical. Warning is equally as crucial.
And, secondly, I am deeply concerned, and I appreciate Mr. Smith's comments on this and share with him this, that some of the most vulnerable victims in any disaster are often children and children separated from their families. And without adults to take care of them it seems to me that children are particularly susceptible, of all who are susceptible, particularly susceptible to disease, hunger and exploitation. And in a chaotic environment following a disaster, when normal protections may not be in place, the unaccompanied are most exposed to traffickers and those seeking recruits into local militias and other areas that I think are critical to a child's well being to being protected from.
So the question is, as we read about the rising not only of the death tolls, but also this displacement and see that maybe a third who are affected are children, how is it that we go about workingand I heard some of what you said about UNICEFhow do we go aboutdo we need an orphaned children's fund, for example, as we look to the future in providing for immediate assistance to children who are unaccompanied and have not been reunited with family as we might define family, extended or immediate? Secondly, getting together with their parents, if they are alive or, if not, linking them to aunts, uncles and/or grandparents, and thirdly for those who are orphaned and don't have any of these connections, what is our future engagement?
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Mr. NATSIOS. Let me answer your first question with respect to early warning systems. There are three elements to an early warning system. One is the scientific detection devices that tell us that a natural disaster is imminent. That is something that NOAA helps us with, and the U.S. Geological Survey helps us with, working with UNESCO and other institutions. But it is a scientific question. And we have PASAs and RASAs with, for example, U.S. Geological Survey for 30 years in USAID, we have their scientists on our staff. We work together and the U.S. Weather Service is involved in this as well.
The second element is the transmission of this to some national institution in the countries themselves. For example, the typhoon early warning system goes to the Bangladeshi National Disaster Response Agency of the Bangladeshi Government in Dhaka. Then it goes out to the community.
Now, you can sound an alarm in a community, but if you don't do the third part of this it is useless. If the alarm went off and no one is educated as to what it means, they might go into the water instead of going in the opposite direction. You have to tell them what a tsunami is and what a typhoon is and what the risk is and where they are supposed to go when they leave. They might go into a more dangerous area, conceivably.
So there has to be a community-based system that educates the public through the schools, particularly children, who sometimes will educate their parents, through religious institutions, through local government, to have points that are on high ground, for example, that they can move to. They have to be trained in this consistently each year. They can't be trained once, because they will forget about it. So it is an ongoing process of community-based education.
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If all three elements are not in place, the system will not work. You have to have all three, and that is what we work on. It has got to be an international effort. This is an expensive thing to set up. It has got to be properly maintained.
But I have to tell you, the typhoon early warning system that was put in place 30 years in Bangladesh has saved probably tens of millions of lives. In the last major typhoon, 6 million people left the coast within a day, and no one died as a result of that, even though huge areas were completely washed out from the typhoon. Everybody was gone. Because the system worked.
The second question was children. We have established international protocols that all of us have agreed to, all the bilateral aid agencies, the United Nations agencies like UNICEF and WHO and the NGO community. We do not like to do foreign adoptions. That is not the way in which this is appropriate, unless there is no other alternative.
And in these four countries, there are local alternatives. One is the families are not small in these countries, they are large. And the extended families are still much more tightly connected to each other than they are in Western societies where the families have been broken up and moved around countries. They tend to be closer to each other.
So one of the things the NGOs are doing with support, grant money from USAID and other donors, with UNICEF organizing this, is to see if we can reunite each of the unaccompanied children with someone from their family. Now, some of the children are very small, and they can't talk. They don't know what their last names are. They don't even know what village they lived in, and so we have to bring their relatives to them to see if they can identify them.
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So there is a process that is being used now to reunite families. This is an established procedure that we do even in wartime when children get separated from their families or the parents get killed.
And then if there is no one, or the extended family will not adopt the children and take them, then there are community-based efforts to put the children up for adoption in their own culture, among their own linguistic group, because these kids, they speak the local language. I might add, in these countries there is a custom of local adoption. They don't have the complications of going to a court and all of that. They have a much more informal system, which we used to have in the United States, I might add.
In my hometown in New England, we had informal systems of adoption 60 or 70 years ago. When families broke up, the kid would be adopted by the family next door. They would never go to the courts. There were not all of these social service agencies 60 or 70 years ago. It was done informally.
I know friends of mine who were brought up in that system. That system still exists in these societies. We need to use the system that they use and respect their culture and their traditions in terms of how they deal with unaccompanied children. But it needs to be monitored to make sure that the traffickers don't come in and abuse the system.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY [presiding]. The Chair recognizes Chairman Royce.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to commend each of you for your good efforts, and I think it is important for the record to note that despite European disinformation, that in addition to USAID, and in addition to, certainly, the good work of our NGOs, the United States is leading one of the largest military relief operations in history. And it is the U.S. Navy and it is the Marines who are in fact organizing the logistics to help these people.
But one of the lessons that I think we have to learn from Afghanistan and from 9/11 is that the United States has a vital interest in preventing regions of instability from becoming havens or recruiting grounds for Islamist terrorist groups, and I am concerned about the reports reaching us about Lashkar, Mujahedin and Islamic Defenders Front, those groups tied to al-Qaeda, those groups that have been involved in eliminating non-Muslims in the past from the area, the reports that they have established a presence and are even getting, in the case of Indonesia, some official government assistance; in other words, the reports that military transports have brought them in on the ground, have provided them with the equipment to do the work, and they have the volunteers now on the ground. And they have come to aid those in need, but they have also come to recruit. And I think that the indication that they are already organizing orphans and leading them off to Koranic schools, the stories about them sleeping among the local population there while the Americans return at night to the USS Lincoln, these groups and their activities really bear close scrutiny.
And I was going to ask about the influence of these groups and how they can be countered and how you would judge the local population's reaction to these volunteer groups now on the ground with these ties to al-Qaeda versus U.S. assistance.
Mr. NATSIOS. I can tell you the experience we have had thus far in these countries. The only country where this is an issue in any way is in Indonesia. The Muslim areas of Thailand are unaffected by the disaster. Sri Lanka is not primarily Muslim, and neither is India in these areas. So we are dealing with Aceh.
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There is already a fundamentalist movement in Aceh, which is in the center of the country. The coastline of Aceh is in fact where the Indonesian military has its bases. It is the rebel movement that is in the interior of the island. The rebel movement has ties to more extreme elements of Islam. This is the most conservative Islamic area of all of Indonesia.
We have not had threats. Now, are these groups there? Yes. But when you say the military is helping move them in, the military is at war with them, and the military is fighting the rebels, and the Government of Indonesia is very concerned about this. So if there has been some kind of public support, I am unaware of it.
Mr. ROYCE. The press reports are that they are brought in by military transport, that they are equipped by Indonesian military with the equipment they need to do the rescue work, the boots and the suits and so forth.
And then these reports indicate the various organizations and their efforts, and of course we do have the organizer of the Bali bombing who is in custody, but he is already making pronouncements about, you know, how the United Stateswhat the true intentions are of the United States and encouraging these organizations, speaking to his followers.
And I think that some in the region are, as I said, suspicious of U.S. motives and intentions, and one of the questions I have is about the public diplomacy strategy to let people know our true intentions and whether or not we are keeping a watchful eye on those organizations that are there now on the ground, living full time and doing good work but, as I say, with an ulterior motive that they readily admit to NGOs in the region, and that is they are also recruiting.
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And they are certainly finding the orphans and taking them, you knowlining them up for the Koranic schools and so forth.
So there is a phenomenon at work here, and I think from past experience, we might be able to learn a little bit about watching those organizations and monitoring them and then countering in our public diplomacy their efforts to sway opinion.
Mr. LARSON. Congressman, if I could just respond very, very quickly. We are aware of the presence of these groups and the activities that you have described. We are not aware of any official Indonesian military involvement with them or support for them.
Mr. ROYCE. And I think that is probably right.
Mr. LARSON. And I think that we have detected very strong local support for the obvious efforts that our country has made, and I think you are quite right that we need to find a way to build on that. We are working hard on public diplomacy. There has been an integrated strategy among the agencies represented at this table to expand to a broader audience the story about what the United States has done in this moment of need, and we are going to need to continue that.
Mr. ROYCE. I thank you, Secretary Larson. And there was just one last quick question I would like to ask you, Secretary Larson, and that is the decision by the International Trade Commission on the dumping duties that have been imposed on the exporters from India and the exporters of Thailand, and the ITC did promise to review the impact on the tsunami victims and consider reversing itself. And I would just hope that the State Department would also take a hard look at this so that our policies in the region are not working against each other. I think this may be a case of U.S. trade protectionism harming the poor countries that USAID dollars seek to help. So I wanted to make that point to you.
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Mr. LARSON. As you know, sir, the ITC did make a decision after a year of investigation that there was damage caused to our industry through these exports. But as you also noted, they have announced that in light of this disaster, they are going to examine whether there is still the threat of danger now in light of the damage that apparently has been done to this industry, and they will carry out their responsibilities under the law.
Mr. ROYCE. Thank you, Ambassador Larson. I appreciate that.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you, Mr. Royce.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Thank you. I would just yield to my colleague, Ms. McCollum, but I wanted to note that in the Principles of Development and Reconstruction Assistance that was kindly distributed to us, there is a principle of sustainability that makes not even an oblique reference to what much of the world views as sustainability, in terms of the implication, at least, for an environmentally sound way that things are sustainable. This just says that their impact endures after assistance ends, which may be economic. As near as I read this, there is nothing here that speaks to environmental restoration, environmental principles, sound environmental principles.
Mr. Natsios mentioned the Maldives were protected because the reefs were there. I did go on at some length talking about my own strong bias that we ought to be sensitive to the power of environmental restoration to leave communities better than we found them. And I would just like to get some information, not now but at some point, that talks about how environmental sustainability figures into our programs and our practices existent, and whether or not the Committee needs to be doing something to provide further guidance or direction.
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Mr. LARSON. Thank you. We will do that.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. May I yield the remainder of my time to Ms. McCollum? He said he would get the information to us.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. You have time remaining, so yes.
Ms. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Mr. Blumenauer. I have a question also on sustainability. We talk about these extended families adopting children. I just recently had the opportunity to be at the refugee camps immediately outside of Sudan in the Chad area, where I watched one elder grandmother now with five new children to care and tend for. So my question is, as we know, this is happening with the AIDS population in Africa and around the world, and now we see what is going on with the tsunami victims, the children. What is being put in place to help, especially these elder grandparents who now have five, six, maybe a lot more children to take care of, many of them women who have limited options for resource and income?
I know we have some economic enterprises that we develop for women, but it is usually younger women. I would like to know if those are going to continue to be in place. And what are we going to do for the elders in the community to assist them, not just now, but months from now, years from now, in trafficking, recruitment, and some of the other issues that we talked about?
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LARSON. One of the important things for the needs assessments to look into will be the social trauma. I think most who have traveled to this region have said that one of the striking things has been the disruption of families and the psychological burdens that people are continuing to carry around with them. In some cases, it is women who have been left to care for children alone, and in some cases, because so many women were tragically killed by the tsunami, it is men who aren't used to taking care of children who are now in that role. But whichever the case may be, you have a problem of disrupted families. And the response that we are going to have to work on together with the countriesbecause I think they will have a greater wisdom and a greater sense of what can be accomplished locallyis to get kids back in school, to help restore livelihoods.
It gets back to the point about microfinance and some of the programs that can help people get on their feet quickly. We want, for example, to get in there and see if we can help with housing reconstruction. Both USAID and OPEC have had some success in getting quick-moving housing programs going so people can not only have employment in the construction industry but they can get back into their homes quickly. But these are all things that we are going to need to address, and we hope that the needs assessments that are underway now can help inform us as to how best to do them.
Ms. MCCOLLUM. How far out is the needs assessment going to go? Is the needs assessment going to be 1 year, 2 years? As you do your projection, is it going to show approximately 10 years out? How long is it going to be for the sustainability issue?
Mr. LARSON. Typically, I think it would be something in between. When we work with the World Bank on these types of assistance assessments, they try to formulate what needs to be done to get over the initial curve. That tends to be a 3- to 4-year time frame, but it varies depending on what issues they encounter.
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Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you.
The Chair recognizes Mr. Wilson.
Mr. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I would like to thank the panel for all of your efforts. It really is inspiring to Americans to see the joint cooperation of civilian and military assisting people around the world.
I also have another perspective, and that is that I have worked with Congressman Ed Royce and now work with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as the Co-Chairman of the India Caucus, and we have been very pleased that Indiawhile affected at Tamil Nadu state, and in the southernmost islandsalso immediately provided financial assistance and military assistance to their neighbors, particularly Sri Lanka. And so this, in the midst of tragedy, has been an extraordinary circumstance of cooperation by India and with the United States with the joint military exercises.
And so, instead of a question, I just want to make a statement of how pleased we are with what you have done on behalf of the America people and in cooperation with the people of India. Thank you. And I yield the balance of my time.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Mr. Mack.
Mr. MACK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I guess my question, since we are on the International Relations Committee, is maybe the General and the Ambassador could just tell us a little bit of how our men and women that are there helping in the relief efforts, how are the people responding to them and toI am sure they are responding very well, but maybe you can give us a little insight on that. And, Ambassador, with the other governments around, are we winning the hearts and minds? I know that is not the purpose, but certainly with close to a billion dollars' worth of aid, there has to be some thanks for that kind of aid.
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General ALLEN. Thank you, Congressman Mack. I think that is a great question. It is a question that the American people are very interested in hearing the answer to.
Very early along in this crisis, as the U.S. military began to respond, a couple of things became immediately apparent to us. Several of our very close friends in the region, Thailand, Australia and Singapore, were already en route as well, and it was very, very easy for us, because of the longstanding close relationship with those countries, to be able to operate very quickly and very capably as we arrived on the scene.
To go to the specific question with respect to how we have been received, I know that there are Members here who have been on the ground, and I was there as well about 10 days ago. If you stand on the beach in Banda Aceh and you look out to the northwest, generally what you will see out there is a gray silhouette and it is the Abraham Lincoln, and everybody knows that it is the Abraham Lincoln. And you probably also know that they have started to call the Abraham Lincoln and its helicopters the ''Gray Angels,'' because there were many villages along the northwest coast of Sumatra where the single vestige of any support that arrived therefood, water, medical supportcame from a United States Navy helicopter. And that young crew chief jumped off the aircraft, often accompanied by a TNI soldier, and handed out that relief. And even today along that coast, which has a shattered logistics infrastructure, much of the relief that has gotten in came in either by helicopter or U.S. Navy landing craft, the air-cushion landing craft or our LCUs. So we have received tremendous support and been tremendously welcomed by the local people in the Aceh province.
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I will also tell you that I wasI went, I believe, to the same school you did, Mr. Chairmanin Galle, where in temperatures of probably 100 degrees, the Marines and Seabees were knocking these buildings down, some with heavy equipment; they were transporting that gear in our own dump trucks, using our own engineering equipment that had been lowered over the beach. And often they were doing it swinging a sledge hammer. And it was back-breaking work. And I asked several of those Marines and several of those sailors about their morale. And they have never had higher morale, because they are not only doing something that they love to doknocking down a buildingthey are doing it for the right reasons. And as we came off that site, we happened to encounter the Sri Lankan ladies who constituted the teachers for the school, and we stopped and asked them what they thought of those Seabees and the Marines, and there was a slight hesitation as the interpreter translated into the native language, Sinhalese, and there was instantaneous and immediate response, smiles, rapid-fire comments. They were so pleased, both in terms of what was being done for them, and the nature of the compassionate help that these warriors were delivering to them.
Watching the young Air Force men and women on the tarmac at Utapao, working in very high heat and humidity, loading those Air Force aircraft 24 hours a day, operating at the outer edge of their endurance, they are all about the mission. And for them, the mission is saving lives, and they have saved them by the tens of thousands.
And one of the most profound experiences I had was in the command post tent of the airlift control element of the Air Force unit that was actually controlling the runway at Banda Aceh. And for those of you who have been at Banda Aceh, you know that it is just controlled chaos at any given time. The air is full of airplanes, full of helicopters. They all have to go somewhere. And there are about 20 young Air Force men and women who are making it happen. They are directing the ground traffic, they are working with the Indonesian and Australian air traffic controllers.
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And I observed to this young majorit was dark and so we were in the half light of his command postI observed to him that if suddenly those 15 or 20 young Air Force troops were to disappear, that would constitute a single point of failure for this whole operation and it would grind to a halt. Now, that was meant to be a tribute. He is a pretty proud leader, this young officer. And he looked me in the eye and said, ''Sir, we are not going to fail.''
The Indonesians appreciate that. The Thais appreciate that. The Sri Lankans appreciate that. And we are going to take polls locally; we are going to find out how the stock of the American opinion is about how we have done. But in the lives saved and in the contributions, genuine heartfelt humanitarian contributions by these young men and women to these three governments in particular, you couldn't have paid enough for that.
And when you get all the numbers totaled up, the $30 billion in capital assets that the American taxpayer invested in the hardware of the United States military and the couple hundred million that it is going to cost us in the end when it is all said and done, the tens of thousands of lives and the goodwill and the sense of the perpetuity of the American presence in that region, that is going to be in the end what they will remember us for.
And I know all of those kids out there are very, very thankful for having had the chance to do that. And I want to thank you again for the support you have given us in this regard. Thank you, sir.
Mr. LARSON. I couldn't top what General Allen said in terms of the gratitude at the grassroots level. And I would just add, on the theme he was getting to at the end, that I think there is lasting respect throughout these governments. These are governments that we have worked with quite closely on many issues.
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In India, we have been making great progress. This has shown in a new way the capabilities that our democracies have for working together. I think it will allow us to deepen in some very profound ways our cooperation with each one of these governments in a whole array of areas, including economic, political, and other forms of cooperation.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you, Mr. Mack.
And before bringing on our third panel, I just want to make one comment and then offer a question on behalf of Jeff Flake who was on the delegation but had to leave for a TV show that had already been prescheduled.
General Allen, I can't agree with you more. Our delegation, Democrats and Republicans alike, were so impressed with the can-do spirit, the high morale, the sense of lifesaving intervention displayed by these soldiers and sailorsin this case, those who were mounting on to the helicopters every day and bringing food on search and rescue missions. There was a long waiting list. The whole boat, the whole Abraham Lincoln wanted to sign up, but for force protection reasons and for other reasons, just capacity absorption of so many personnel, they could only bring 60 to 80 to the island every day. But it was astonishing.
And I saw that myself. I was part of the delegation that went when Provide Comfort was underway. And again our military behaved with stunning capability. And thousands of people would have died had it not been for them. And they need to know that. The American people need to know that.
Page 132 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I ran into a Corporal Moran from my own district when we were in Sri Lanka, who was a hygiene specialist. He was very proud of the fact that he was producing clean water by the gallons for people who otherwise would get waterborne diseases, and became very ill or perhaps even die. And he was just frothing at the bit to get out there working, I mean, more hours than anyone can be reasonably called upon to do; but he was providing clean water, and that meant life for the Sri Lankans.
While we were there we also met with Cardinal McCarrick of Catholic Relief Services, the cardinal from right here in Washington, DC. He was with Director Hackett of CRS, who were there doing their own assessment, like the other NGOs who are all pulling together, trying to ascertain what they could do, and how to use the $25 million plus that they have already committed with Catholic Relief Services. This has been a magnificent exercise in humanitarianism.
But I have to say, and I repeat this with underlines and exclamation points: The military made the difference in those first few days and weeks, and now the baton can be passed on. I know Americans were aghast when a high-ranking Indonesian official, the Vice President, suggested that the United States military will be out by a certain date. Well, that is going to happen anyway. That baton naturally would be passed off to that sustainable effort that is undertaken by USAID and the NGOs and the governments themselves. But it was that early intervention, that airlift capability and the like, that made all the difference in the world. So our soldiers, sailors and Marines and Air Force, they deserve the greatest pat on the back imaginable. So, thank you so much.
The question that Jeff Flake had, again, a member of the delegation that joined the Leach delegation, was about military-to-military contacts with the Indonesian military, whether or not some modest contact might be made. I mean, I myself have been a critic of JSETs and other programs in the past, but maybe there is something, particularly in the area of human rights training, that might be applicable since a new era of good will has been generated.
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Mr. LARSON. Thank you. One of the points that Secretary Powell made when he visited was that the Indonesian military, like our own military, has an important, legitimate role in responding to these types of situations. They did a credible job. They could have done an even better job if there had been more cooperation with us and other international forces, if they had better command of English, if they had better equipment capabilities.
Now, we understand that there are policy and legislative restrictions and that there are very important issues in terms of making sure that Indonesia's military fulfills the role that it is supposed to play in a democracy, and that includes accountability and respect for human rights, support of civil society. But as we reflect on what has happened and the possibility that the response to future such disasters could be better if there were somewhat more cooperation and interchange, we will be consulting the Congress and sharing with you any thoughts we have about how we might be able to build on the experience that we have had.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. I thank you for that. And, again, I thank this very distinguished panel.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Chairman, thank you. And I don't think that there is any question we have turned a new page now in terms of our relationship with Indonesia, but there is a gnawing problem that really disturbs this Member in terms of what has been happening historically. Given the fact that East Timor was a colony of the Indonesian Government and for the fact that these people suffered tremendously200,000 East Timoris were murdered and tortured by the Indonesian militaryif it had not been for the United Nations and other regional organizations finally giving the East Timoris the right of self-determination, now becoming an independent nation, the problem that I have, Mr. Chairman, with this whole issue is that West Papua, New Guinea is no different than East Timor.
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Now, we cannot just pretend that West Papua, New Guinea was not a former colony, still is a colony of the Indonesian Government, taken over by the military, 100,000 men, women, and children, West Papau New Guineans that were murdered and tortured by the Indonesia military. These people were never given the opportunity for right of self-determination, the same opportunity that was given to East Timor. And this is what troubles me the most in terms of, we can talk about military training between our two countries and all of this, but West Papua, New Guinea, Mr. Chairman, is an issue that needs to be addressed; it needs to be addressed honestly and to correct what has happened in the colonial legacy of Indonesia toward the West Papua New Guineans.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Again, I want to thank the panel.
And I now invite the third panel, if they would make their way to the witness table. I would like to begin by welcoming Peter Bell who has been President and Chief Executive Officer of CARE since 1995. His government service includes employment as Deputy Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare during the Carter Administration. He holds various volunteer positions including those with the InterAmerican Dialogue, the Bernard Van Leer Group Foundation, and the World Peace Foundation.
We will then hear from Richard Brennan, who is the Director of Health Programs for the International Rescue Committee, where he manages and supports IRC's range of health programs around the world. He has extensive field experience in relief and emergency health programs in Africa, East Europe, and Asia, and was one of the first responders to the tsunami disaster. He just returned from the region, and we appreciate Rick's being here today, especially in light of the fact that he was supposed to be in New York reporting his findings to his own board.
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We will then hear from Afshan Khan, who is the Deputy Director of Emergency Programs for UNICEF and principal adviser on postconflict transition. She is coordinating UNICEF's response to the tsunami disaster at UNICEF's headquarters in New York. She previously worked in the office of the U.N. Secretary General on issues involving U.N. reform development and postconflict transitions.
And I would like to add that Oxfam America has submitted written testimony for the record which will be available at this hearing.
[The information referred to follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MS. KRISTA RIDDLEY, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF POLICY, OXFAM AMERICA
Mr. Chairman, Congressman Lantos, and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity for Oxfam America to submit written testimony for the record. We appreciate your interest in gathering a variety of perspectives on the important issues of how the U.S. is responding and providing relief in the wake of the terrible tsunami tragedy.
Oxfam America is an international development and relief agency committed to developing lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social justice. We are part of a confederation of 12 Oxfam organizations working together in more than 100 countries around the globe with an annual budget over $400 million dollars.
In response to the tsunami, Oxfam has assisted over 300,000 people across the disaster zone: in Indonesia Oxfam and UNICEF have been appointed the lead providers of clean water in Banda Aceh; in India we are assisting 60,000 people by digging latrines, repairing water sources and providing temporary shelter; in Sri Lanka we have also been appointed as the lead organization in the north, providing clean water and sanitation to over 100,000 people. We also have programs and are providing assistance in Thailand, Maldives, Adaman and Nicobar Islands, and Somalia.
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THE US RESPONSE
The United States Government, local charities and the America public have responded to the tsunami with unprecedented promises of aid and donations demonstrating our country's compassion and generosity.
It is now one month after the tsunami and more than one million people living in the Indian Ocean region remain displaced. The death toll is over 175,000 and could still increase unless the humanitarian response reaches all those in need with appropriate and effective life-saving assistance.
It is important to remember that beyond the immediate threats to life nearly two million people may face the threat of living in poverty unless the massive reconstruction effort of the next few months and years specifically aims to reduce poverty.
APPROPRIATE AND LIFE-SAVING ASSISTANCE
Key to an effective response to this crisis is the quality of aid, not just the quantity. National governments with the support of the UN need to implement processes immediately to accredit international agencies and ensure their work is suited to their experience in terms of scope and duration. Information needed for effective planning must be assembled and made available to all national and international actors as soon as possible. Currently, there is a danger that many organizations are planning their work with insufficient information and knowledge of where the real needs may be.
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Some governments like Sri Lanka are initiating processes at the national level to rationalize and coordinate the aid delivery process from the national level down through the district level. This is something NGOs should strengthen and support. At the local level, it is imperative that communities be engaged in the planning process for the intermediate and longer term rehabilitation process and that participation not be sacrificed to expediency. People should be given choices and agencies should insist on local consultation.
Beneficiaries of aid must not be limited to those living on the coast. In reality, the tsunami is having impacts on the livelihoods of families from surrounding communities whose family members worked along the coast or in other cases persons who delivered produce from interior communities to the coast. Given the amounts of funding available, agencies should think broadly about the application of funds looking at rebuilding of livelihoods in all affected communities, and in so doing avoid creating or exacerbating regional inequities.
Civil society organizations in some of the countries affected lack the management capacity to absorb a massive influx of aid funds. Therefore, aid agencies must avoid overtaxing a fragile system, over funding irresponsibly and hiring away key staff from the national NGO sector. Rather it might be more prudent to recruit highly trained national expatriate professionals to return to their country on a fixed contract basis to work on intermediate and long term development projects.
Bilaterals must avoid over funding private contractors for projects that NGOs are already undertaking. Bilateral monies would best be spent on large infrastructural improvement, business investment, tourism, manufacturing and permanent housing projects, areas that are not within the competency of international or local NGOs.
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Agencies should stick to their core competencies and not reinvent their missions simply because the money is available. The bulk of the funding needs are for long term rebuilding, not short term relief. The relief phase will be coming to a close soon, and work is shifting toward the intermediate recovery and rehabilitation phase.
Quality standards must not be sacrificed to the rush to expend money and secure a position in the recovery process. Agencies must guarantee adherence to internationally recognized standards of humanitarian response, such as the ''Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards for Disaster Relief'' and the International Committee of the Red Cross Code of Conduct for Disaster Relief.
Humanitarian aid must be distributed on the basis of impartial assessments, according to the fundamental humanitarian principles of humanity and neutrality. Special attention should be paid to the needs of minority groups, indigenous people, members of opposition groups, and low-caste people affected by the tsunami, ensuring that they receive aid without discrimination. Othersincluding children, women in vulnerable situations, and migrant workerswho often miss out when aid is distributed, must not be excluded.
Despite the tsunami, lasting peace in Aceh and Sri Lanka remains elusive. All parties should guarantee safe, continued access for UN agencies, and international and national NGOs, who are contributing to immediate humanitarian relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction work. Both governments and all warring parties should ensure the end to violence, and commit to negotiating a long-term settlement to Aceh's conflict. Sri Lanka's displaced people need their leaders, on all sides, to show the same commitment to ensure that life after the tsunami is not the same as before. In the near future, displaced people will want to return to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. They must be given a genuine choice: to return home with the necessary supportor to remain in the camps for as long as necessary.
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Efforts should be made to promote a highly transparent process of investment and delivery of all aid. Donors should consider what mechanisms might be put in place to assure transparency and accountability at all levels. With the volume of aid available, countries have the potential to not only recover from this tragedy but to put their population on a solid course toward sustainable development and the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals. Every effort should be made to assure that the high volume of funds coming in are not wasted on a range of duplicative activities that have little long term merit but rather are invested in solid programs with long term sustainable potential.
RECONSTRUCT LIVELIHOODS NOT POVERTY
Reconstruction must do more than recreate the poverty that existed before the tsunami. It must aim for 'reconstruction plus', specifically focusing on poverty reduction, environmental sustainability, and reducing vulnerability to future disasters. Implementing this principle does not have to wait until the emergency response is over. Employing affected people immediately in building shelters and in other humanitarian work can also help them to rebuild their own livelihoods. Such cash-for-work programs are already planned in Indonesia, and should be urgently considered in Sri Lanka and other affected countries. Good-quality humanitarian work and the beginnings of 'reconstruction plus' should go hand in hand. That imperative is not yet recognized in the UN Flash Appeal, which sets aside only 1.4 per cent of its total budget, for example, for rebuilding agriculture and fishing.
The livelihoods of fisherfolk, small-scale farmers, artisans, and others have all been devastated by the tsunami. Reconstruction plans must support the recovery of affected sectors and, as with humanitarian aid, scrupulously avoid discrimination. Most of the affected coastlines were home to poor fishing communities and indigenous settlements whose legal title to ownership of their land is unclear. They should be allowed to rebuild their lives where they have lived in the past. In Sri Lanka and the Maldives particularly, many poor people depend on tourism. Governments, the local business community, and tour operators should work to ensure that tourism recovers as swiftly as possible.
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Donor governments must swiftly fund these strategiesquickly enough to avoid another problem: the gap between the short 'emergency phase' and the under-funded 'reconstruction phase'. Twelve months after the earthquake that struck the Iranian city of Bam in December 2003, only five per cent of the planned new houses had been built. According to its Governor, Ali-Mohamad Rafizadeh, speaking on January 11, 2005, his town had so far received only $55 million of the $120 million that had been promised when international attention had focused on the disaster a year before.
The international response to the tsunami disaster must therefore be swift and sustained over at least five years. As with humanitarian aid, pledges for reconstruction should be honored as needs are enormous. According the Government of Sri Lanka, they will need almost $3 billion for reconstruction alone. Although more than $4 billion has been promised by donors for reconstruction, will these promises mean more than previous massive promises of aid in Iran, Mozambique and Central America? Governments should publish clear timetables, showing when they will distribute their aid. Aid should be given as grants, not loans, and not tied to benefit commercial companies in donor countriesa common feature of international assistance which substantially reduces the amount of money available for the real benefit of poor people.
Equally important, aid provided in response to the tsunami should be genuinely new money, not recycled from previous commitments nor taken from budgets that would otherwise be spent on humanitarian or development aid elsewhere in the world.
Page 141 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Debt relief for some of the tsunami-affected countries could potentially release billions of dollars for reconstruction. This should be a vital priority, provided that all proceeds from that relief are spent on 'reconstruction plus' and for the reduction of poverty. When the Paris Club of creditors met in Paris on January 12, 2005, they offered to freeze debt repayments from tsunami-affected countries. Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Seychelles indicated that they would take advantage of this offer, the terms of which should now be negotiated with each of them.
But the Paris Club failed to go beyond agreeing to a temporary suspension of debt repayments. The members should commission an urgent assessment to determine what level of debt repayments is now sustainable, after the tsunami, for each of the indebted countries. Any debt above that sustainable level should be cancelled as long as the proceeds are spent on 'reconstruction plus' and to reduce poverty. Such cancellations should be negotiated between each affected government and its creditors.
In order to ensure that the people in the countries that were affected by the tsunami can begin the process of reconstructing their lives and economies, the US should reduce textile and apparel tariffs for those countries. According to calculations from the US International Trade Commission, in 2003 alone, the US levied $244.31 million in duties on imports of textiles and clothing from Sri Lanka, where clothing exports account for more than half all export earnings. The clothing sector employs 450,000 workers, 85 percent of whom are women. In the same year, the US also earned $426.39 million in duties on imports of textiles and clothing from Indonesia, which suffered the worst loss of life in the disaster. The Maldives is among the world's poorest countries, and it, along with other poor exporting countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia, depends heavily upon textiles and apparel manufacturing for export earnings.
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Before the earthquake and tsunami struck on December 26th, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia were already facing the threat of significant job losses due to major restructuring within the global textile and clothing industry. To help alleviate the colossal economic burden these countries now face, the US should join in similar efforts by the European Union by granting immediate preferential market access to these affected countries. Immediate market access opportunities in the form of tariff preferences should be extended to all the least developed countries in South and Southeast Asia region, because this region has yet to benefit from duty-free market access preferences for textiles and clothing, such as those enjoyed by most sub-Saharan African countries and beneficiaries of the Caribbean Basin and Trade Partnership Act.
In the face of this terrible tragedy we commend the United States for its leadership and hope that you will consider these thoughts to ensure a comprehensive and effective response for the millions of people who are victims of this catastrophe. Thank you again for this chance to share Oxfam's perspectives.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Mr. Bell, if you could begin your testimony.
STATEMENT OF MR. PETER BELL, PRESIDENT, CARE-USA
Mr. BELL. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Knowing that my written comments will find their way into the record, I will confine myself here to make some brief introductory comments.
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I very much appreciate the leadership that you have shown, Mr. Chairman, as well as the leadership of Chairman Leach and Chairman Hyde. I certainly agree with the praise that you have heaped on the U.S. military for its logistical support in those first days after the disaster. I also tremendously appreciate the work that has been done by the DART teams of the Office of Foreign Disasters Assistance of USAID.
I had the good fortune to visit South Asia recently. I was able not only to participate in the memorial service for a colleague who had died in the tsunami on an island off of Thailand, but also to visit Sri Lanka. I didn't get a chance to see the scope of the disaster from a helicopter, but I did take a 10-hour bus ride to the east coast of Sri Lanka and spent time in Batticaloa visiting devastated communities before going on to Thailand to meet with CARE colleagues who were participating in the response there. And in both of those cases, the response by CARE was instantaneous, virtually. In Thailand, at the very onset, our staff helped to carry the injured to the hospital and to transport the dead to temples for identification and burial. In Sri Lanka, we did the same.
I talked with one colleague who had in fact rescued six people from the sea after the tsunami hit and then pulled in 15 bodies.
Forty percent of the CARE's staff in the district of Batticaloa were themselves directly affected by the tsunami, and yet they were back at their jobs within a few days.
CARE has had programs in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and Somalia for decades. We have more than 1,800 CARE workers who are on the ground in those countries, and thus we were able to respond to more than 100,000 people in Sri Lanka and more than 100,000 in Indonesia in those first few days with food, water, and other essential supplies, including such simple items as soap.
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At this point, I would say the immediate lifesaving phase of the emergency response is coming toward a close, and increasingly we are turning to rehabilitation and longer-term reconstruction and development. As we do so, we already have in mind at least a 5-year framework for our planning and for our staffing as we look to strategies and funding mechanisms.
We have been pleased with how both the political leadership in this country and the media have responded to the disaster, not only in terms of the robustness of the response but also in sending the right messages to the public with regard, for example, to the need for cash contributions rather than in-kind donations of food or clothing from the U.S., and with the importance of taking a long-term approach.
Among the guiding principles that CARE will be following as we move ahead in our response are the following six principles:
One, the importance of delivering on promises, making sure that we follow through on all the commitments that we have made and also urging others to do the same.
Secondly, applying the best international standards available for humanitarian response. We already have a widely agreed set of standards called the SPHERE standards. It is imperative that all of us in this humanitarian response be held accountable to those standards.
Thirdly, respecting communities and strengthening local capacities. There is a lot of discussion here this afternoon about what Americans are doing because we are mainly U.S.-based organizations, but it is extremely important to recognize the engagement of civil societies in the affected countries and the hard work, ingenuity, and commitment of their citizens. All of us must work to strengthen local capacities and be careful not to replace them or to overwhelm them.
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Fourthly, we must seek to build pathways to peace, particularly in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Depending on the way in which aid is given, it could in some cases actually worsen tensions between ethnic groups, or it could bring people together across the lines of conflict. It is vital that we do the second and not the first.
A fifth area which has already been touched on here is the importance of protecting vulnerable groups. We have talked about children already. Women often fit the same category; so do lower-caste dalits and day laborers and migrants. They are among the vulnerable groups that deserve special protection and attention.
And finally, there is the principle of catalyzing broader commitment and change. Broader commitment and change both within the countries affected, and, one hopes, more broadly within the world. Within, for example, Sri Lanka, it is important not only to respond to the immediate disaster, but there is also the opportunity and the need to get to the underlying causes of vulnerability within the society, including, most importantly, extreme poverty. And, of course, one of the causes of extreme poverty in Sri Lanka, which should be at least a middle-income country, is the ongoing conflict. So these are six guiding principles that CARE is following.
With respect to the U.S. Government, I might just make a couple of recommendations. One is that I very much hope that Congress will pass an emergency supplemental funding bill that addresses both the immediate costs associated with the tsunami response as well as other global humanitarian needs that will otherwise go unmet.
Page 146 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Within CARE we support a $2 billion emergency supplemental bill. We would hope that it would cover relief and reconstruction in tsunami-affected countries, that it would meet international humanitarian needs in other parts of the world, and that it would provide significant increases in U.S. food assistance to counter large shortfalls in both emergency and nonemergency food aid.
And, secondly, we would hope that the U.S. Government, as a donor government, would promote transparency and accountability in assistance not only within our own Government and on the part of nongovernmental organizations, but also on the part of other governments; that the U.S. Government would support local ownership and community involvement in the affected countries; and that the U.S. Government would take a broad, proactive, and long-term approach in its response to the disaster.
Day in and day out in too many parts of the world, poverty, conflict, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases take as grim a toll as the tsunami did on December 26th. This need not be so. This tragedy presents us with an opportunity to demonstrate that we, as members of the international community, can work together not only to address a global problem but also to create a future that is more peaceful and more prosperous.
Thank you very much for this opportunity.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Mr. Bell, thank you very much for your excellent testimony and for the good work that your organization does.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bell follows:]
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF MR. PETER BELL, PRESIDENT, CARE-USA
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, my name is Peter Bell. I am the President and CEO of CARE. Thank you for inviting me to join this distinguished panel today to discuss the U.S. response to the recent tsunami disaster.
We have become all too familiar with the images of the destruction wrought on December 26, 2004. The death toll has now crept upward of 220,000 and is likely to climb even higher. Millions of people have been left homeless and without the most basic necessities. The suddenness, scope and depth of devastation caused by the tsunami have combined to create a human catastrophe of epic proportions.
When I was in Sri Lanka recently, I saw firsthand the tsunami's grim toll. I traveled ten hours by road, from Colombo to Batticaloa (on the eastern coast of the island). It was only in the final minutes of that journey that I began to see the actual damage. What had once been coastal communities of fishermen and farmers looked as though they had been obliterated by an atom bomb. Even brick homes had been reduced to absolute rubble. The psychological scars left by the tsunami were also evident. At a distribution site in Kurukkalmadam, I met Lalitha Thangaraja, who told me how her eight-year-old son had been attending class on that fateful day. Her husband rushed to the school as soon as he heard that the ''ocean was coming'', but by the time he got there, every child had been swept away and drowned. I spoke with Lalitha on the first day that she had left her surviving daughter's side since the tsunami.
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One month after the disaster, Americans can be proud that the remarkable humanitarian response, in which they have played a major role, has helped millions of people like Lalitha. Millions of people are receiving aid; disease outbreaks are far less prevalent than expected; nearly all affected areas, with the exception of some parts of Indonesia, are accessible; military and civilian humanitarian responders have worked side-by-side with national and local authorities and many others; and the United Nations has established a leadership role in supporting the response efforts of affected countries, backed by billions of dollars in official donor commitments. These are no small achievements.
At the same time, we know that the crisis is far from over. Humanitarian responders are still struggling to reach remote communities, especially in Indonesia. Coordination mechanisms are nascent. Material supply chains, resettlement arrangements, and public health outreach capacities are not well established. Concerns are emerging about the possibility of exacerbating conflicts in the region. We must deal with all of these challenges effectively and collectively.
Yet, even greater challenges lie ahead. As the immediate crisis and media coverage recede, we face a complex international reconstruction effort. Our experience with reconstruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch, for example, suggests that this process will take at least five years, and possibly closer to ten. This long-term task will require great resourcefulness and sustained cooperation. In short, the international community must mount and sustain a truly global responseone that respects the needs and plans of countries and communities, meets the highest standards, and leaves behind narrow agendas and business-as-usual.
Page 149 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Today, I will offer a brief assessment of humanitarian conditions in the countries where CARE is responding and address some of the immediate operational issues we are encountering. Next, I will set out six principles that are informing CARE's own response, and which could be helpful in guiding the humanitarian community more widely in the reconstruction effort. Finally, I will offer recommendations on how the U.S. Government can continue to play a positive role, ensure accountability, and avoid unintended harm in contributing toward this extraordinary international response.
II. CARE'S RESPONSE AND OPERATIONAL CONCERNS
A. A Rapid Regional Response to Crisis
CARE responded immediately to this crisis in five countries. We have been operational in the worst affected countries for decades. The vast majority of our staff are nationals of those countries, and they were able to respond at a moment's notice. Immediately after the tsunami hit, CARE staff were conducting damage assessments and starting to distribute food, water and essential supplies to devastated communities. CARE also called on the resources of our international federation to mobilize experts to assist stricken communities.
CARE is concentrating our response in the four worst-affected countries in AsiaIndonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailandas well as Somalia. CARE has worked in each of these countries for decades. We have more than 1,800 staff in the affected countries in Asia, including dozens who specialize in disaster response. We also have partnerships with hundreds of non-governmental and community-based organizations.
Page 150 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In India, more than 10,000 people died and more than three million people are in need of emergency assistance. CARE worked with the Government of India to provide relief supplies to some 50,000 people. Foremost among our relief items were water purification materials and oral rehydration salts to stave off water-borne diseases. Over the next two months, CARE will reach some 100,000 people in four districts of Tamil Nadu. In the medium and long-term, CARE will support programs to help people to overcome their psychological trauma, develop community-based disaster preparedness strategies, and gain access to loans and financial services to restart livelihoods.
In Indonesia, the government recently estimated that more than 160,000 people died and 800,000 are in need of emergency assistance. The tsunami destroyed all of Aceh's community health clinics; 70 percent of health care providers and more than 1,500 teachers have been killed, are missing or have left the area. Using helicopters, CARE was one of the first agencies to provide assistance to remote areas along Aceh's west coast. We are working closely with UN agencies, other NGOs, and the Government of Indonesia to provide emergency assistance to displaced people in 14 of the largest shelters in Aceh Province. Our immediate goal is to support efforts to prevent the spread of diseases, including malaria and diarrhea. Since December 26, CARE has distributed water purification kits to more than 100,000 people, and we expect to provide safe water to 500,000 people per month during the next six months.
In Sri Lanka, more than 30,000 people died and 1.5 million people required emergency assistance. Working with local NGOs and the Sri Lankan Government, CARE has delivered food, water and sanitation, clothing, bedding materials, and other basic supplies to more than 100,000 people in the hardest hit areas of the country. Coordination among the Government of Sri Lanka, UN agencies, and NGOs is starting to coalesce. In the long-term, CARE will work with farmers and fishermen to re-establish their livelihoods by providing equipment and small loans, support the rebuilding of schools and community structures, promote peace and development through dialogue at the local level, and assist vulnerable groups with legal needs (such as replacing lost land titles and obtaining death certificates).
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In Thailand, the official death toll stands at about 5,000. CARE in Thailand has set up temporary offices in three of the hardest hit provinces. Since December 26, CARE Raks Thai has provided basic medicine, first aid kits, oral rehydration salts, safe water, clothing, bedding materials, other essential items and psychosocial support to affected populations, particularly migrant workers in the fishing industry along the coast. We will soon shift our focus to medium and long-term challenges. We plan to help some 25,000 displaced persons and migrant workers to rebuild social support networks and public spaces, including schools and community meeting rooms.
In Somalia, some 300 people were killed and an estimated 54,000 people are in need of emergency assistance. Before the tsunami hit Somalia, CARE and the World Food Program had been distributing food assistance under USAID's Food for Peace program to poor communities in both southern and northern Somalia. In response to the tsunami disaster, CARE will continue to distribute food relief in southern Somalia. We will also begin providing cash relief to 1,000 affected families in northeastern Somalia, and focus in the long-term on supporting Somalis' efforts to restore their livelihoods, particularly in the fishing sector.
Across CARE International, we have raised $97 million in private support for our response to the tsunami. In the United States, CARE has set a fundraising target of $50 million from individuals, corporations and foundations, most of which will be used over a five-year period. We have reached more than half of this target already. In Sri Lanka and India, CARE received $2.6 million from the U.S. government for emergency relief. We are grateful for funding from the U.S. and other governments, and from private donors. Without this support, we could not mount an effective response to this tragedy.
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B. Operational Concerns
CARE, like other humanitarian organizations, has been challenged by a host of factors. The extensive damage to infrastructure (especially roads) and fuel shortages has slowed our ability to reach some remote populations in dire need. In this regard, we have welcomed the assistance of the U.S. and other military forces. American helicopters have been particularly helpful in reaching those remote areas, and military personnel and airlift capacity have facilitated the transport of supplies.
At this point, there is no shortage of relief supplies available to respond to this emergency. But the imagery of destitution, so palpable in the television images we have seen, does not tell the more complex story of loss we are encountering: adults and children traumatized, segments of civil service destroyed, agricultural areas ruined by the influx of salt water, and livelihoods shattered. These systemic crises will take years to address.
One troubling trend we are finding is localized inflation in disaster-affected economies. Rents, salaries, and food prices have risen substantially, and the influx of expatriate staff is frequently cited as the cause. Food aid can also distort local markets, if provided in settings where it floods local markets that are starting to revive. The aid-induced inflation trend is one we see in many large emergency settings. The UN and the humanitarian community need to monitor this, and work together to address these concerns proactively, drawing on lessons learned from other complex emergencies.
III. GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR THE RESPONSE
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As CARE moves to consolidate our tsunami response on an international scale, we are committed to upholding and promoting the following principles:
Delivering on Promises
Applying the Best International Standards
Respecting Communities and Strengthening Local Capacities
Building Pathways to Peace
Protecting Vulnerable Groups
Catalyzing Broader Commitment and Change
1. Delivering on promises. The scale of financial commitments by the global community is extraordinary. The global outpouring of support must result in a well-coordinated, genuinely international effort led by the UN. Long after the cameras leave, the attention, engagement and financial support must remainuntil the task of rebuilding and preparing communities for possible future disasters is complete.
The scope of the international response to date is an order of magnitude beyond what we typically observe for natural disasters. Still, the devil is in the details. It is no secret that many member pledges to UN disaster appeals go unfulfilled. The response to the December 2003 earthquake in Bam, Iran is a good example. Of the UN's Flash Appeal for $32.6 million, only $17.7 million was ultimately received. Moreover, it is often difficult to decipher how governments account for funding pledged versus funding appropriated, allocated and disbursed. For example, they will frequently count contributions that were already earmarked for long-term development projects in the region, or shift resources from one disaster account to another, leaving other humanitarian needs unmet. It is often hard to tell how much funding is ''new money.''
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In this particular instance, however, the amount of resources will be less of a challenge than establishing a coherent framework for implementing the response. It is imperative that we approach our collective response as a long-term effort. There is a lot of pressure to show quick results. But while reaching affected communities with emergency assistance must be short-term, the real task of rebuilding lives and livelihoods requires planning, strategizing and working over at least a five-year time horizon. We are encouraged that leadership roles within the UN and international financial institutions have been identified to consolidate assessments and start reconstruction planning. We recommend that donors make explicit commitments to provide multi-year funding, and that reconstruction plans be budgeted with emphasis on the ''out-years,'' particularly because private donor funds will be more readily available for short-term response efforts, before ''donor fatigue'' sets in.
Non-governmental organizations, including CARE, must also work within long-term frameworks. Beyond this, we will collaborate, under the InterAction umbrella and within NGO coordination bodies at national and local levels, as well as with the U.N. and national governments, to address the extraordinary coordination and financial stewardship issues raised by the tsunami response. Given the levels of funding and the long-term nature of this effort, it is imperative that mechanisms to ensure high standards of accountability and transparency are instituted from the outset.
2. Applying the best international standards. Humanitarian agencies have made a collective commitment to abide by specific standards of good practice. All aid agencies and donors should observe these standards in order to ensure the highest quality and accountability in our work. Implementers of response efforts are accountable not only to donors but also to the people impacted by the tsunami.
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In 1999, hundreds of humanitarian organizations coalesced to endorse a charter of ''minimum standards for humanitarian response,'' now known as the Sphere standards. These standards define, in some measure, the international standards of humanitarian aid to which individuals are entitled. The standards, which are a living document, now encompass water, sanitation, shelter, food security, health services and other needs. While the Sphere standards cannot always be met in every emergency setting, they establish a shared goal for humanitarian agencies, a statement of rights for people living in emergency situations, and, frequently, an advocacy tool with national governments to define responsibilities toward those in need. The Sphere standards should become a shared standard for all actors engaged in this response, including affected governments.
The application of Sphere standardsand coordination, in generalcan be challenging in a case like the tsunami response, when large numbers of individuals and organizations who are unfamiliar with the affected countries (and sometimes not familiar with principles of international humanitarian action) become part of the broader response. This can complicate relief efforts, and even create or intensify tensions within and between communities. CARE urges all organizations responding to the emergency to commit to being part of a coordinated effort seeking to meet the best international standards, and to observe the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Code of Conduct, which emphasizes that humanitarian aid should be distributed according to need, and not on the basis of religion or ethnicity.
3. Respecting communities and strengthening local capacities. The international aid response should fit within national governments' strategies and encourage the full engagement of civil society. The largest contribution to the reconstruction effort will come from the hard work, ingenuity and capability of citizens in affected countries. Aid investments must strengthen local capacity, not replace or overwhelm it.
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The outpouring of international assistance has demonstrated the good will and generosity of nations around the world. Yet, the images we see on television are often those of outsiders arriving to assist the ''helpless.'' This distortion is as harmful as it is misleading. In fact, sustainable solutions will result from rebuilding the considerable capacities that existed in many communities prior to the tsunami. Women's groups, local industry collectives, faith-based organizations and the like, will foster the recovery of communities. Certainly these groups require substantial support and training, but we must focus on acknowledging, respecting and rebuilding their capacities.
Given the flow of resources into the affected countries, the temptation will surely be to construct large-scale plans directed and administered by central governments. It will be important that donors urge that rehabilitation policies and plans be based on consultation and coordination with civil society and local authorities. In the long-run, broad participation and decentralization of decision-making will facilitate lasting results.
4. Building pathways to peace. In countries where conflicts are still simmering, the aid response must be designed to promote peace, reconciliation and good governance. The resources being introduced to the region could cause tensions to worsen as opposing groups seek to control aid. At the same time, this tragedy could open up new opportunities to bring people together across conflict lines.
The way in which the post-tsunami response is conducted could influence simmering conflicts in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, for better or for worse. In Sri Lanka, disagreements over aid administration have heightened tension between the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), even though stories of cooperation between Tamils and Sinhalese abound at the community level. If the aid effort is structured in a way that builds trust and fosters dialogue, then prospects for peace will be enhanced. If it is not perceived to be fair and equitable, then mistrust and grievances will be compoundedand a renewal of conflict could unravel the aid effort.
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In Sri Lanka, the international community should press both parties to work cooperatively, and to take advantage of this opening to create mechanisms for dialogue and build trust. The U.S. Government can play its role by urging the parties to establish a transparent, equitable and inclusive mechanism for administering aid throughout the island. The principle of inclusiveness is important, and should be reflected both vertically and horizontally: on both sides, civil society should have a role, and increasingly pluralistic structures should emerge at all levels of governance.
During my visit to Sri Lanka, it became obvious that if the large influx of resources is only focused on the tsunami-affected coastal belt, it could create serious tensions both within and among various ethnic groups. The overall objective in Sri Lanka and Indonesia should not only be to repair the damage caused by the tsunami, but also to promote more peaceful and prosperous conditionsto deal with persistent poverty and conflict. These objectives go hand in hand, and are mutually reinforcing. In order to achieve this, donors must be open to a broader definition of ''affected communities.'' Aid must be used intelligently and sensitively, so that broad and equitable benefits can result.
In all tsunami-affected countries, resettlement of displaced communities will be a complex issue. In Sri Lanka, for example, the Government is mandating a land reservation to prevent construction too close to the ocean, and relocating many thousands of people to inland areas. While it is important to find immediate solutions for displaced communities, it is equally important that land rights, security concerns and access to livelihoods, such as fishing areas, be respected. Historically, resettling of populations, particularly when based on ethnicity or religion, has fueled conflicts. To ensure that resettlement does not become a flashpoint, donors should urge governments to conduct resettlement in close consultation with local authorities and communities. Thus far, these decisions seem to have been made primarily at a central level.
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5. Protecting vulnerable groups. The tsunami was especially devastating for the most vulnerable groups in the larger society (e.g. children, women, dalits, day laborers, migrants). Response efforts should pay special attention to their rights and physical well-being. This tragedy has opened up new opportunities to rebuild relationships in more equitable ways, protecting and promoting the rights of vulnerable people.
Everywhere in the world, vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected by disasters. They live on marginal land, depend on very few assets and have less control over decisions that affect their lives. When disaster hits, they may lose everything. In the wake of disaster, their social position inhibits them from demanding their rights or negotiating for services.
The international community's response must pay special attention to vulnerable groups, and ensure that their needs are fulfilled and rights upheld as the relief and reconstruction effort advances. For example, resettlement policies in all tsunami-affected countries should pay attention to the special needs of women-headed households, low caste individuals, children and others who are traditionally outside the formal decision-making structures of their communities.
6. Catalyzing broader commitment and change. The tsunami took the lives of more than 220,000 people. Poverty, conflict and natural disasters elsewhere continue to claim similar numbers of innocent victims every month. The tsunami response must not draw resources away from other important commitments and needs. Rather, we must try to marshal public attention and generosity to build a broader understanding of the impact of extreme poverty on the vulnerability of people.
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Global communication has brought the devastation of the tsunami into living rooms around the world. The images depict human suffering on a scale that is massive, yet profoundly personalin ways that have evoked public sympathy on a grand scale. For this outpouring, we are extremely grateful. Yet, most humanitarian situations, for better or worse, do not have the same appeal. War in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, has caused the death of millions of people, yet it has not been in the public eye. These so-called ''forgotten emergencies'' pose some of the greatest challenges. Lack of media attention typically equates to a lack of public awareness, and a lack of resources to address the root causes of conflict and poverty.
So, even as we underscore the need for cash resources to respond to the short- and long-term effects of the tsunami disaster, we urge all of our donors, public and private alike, to also remember the many other global needs around the world. The effects of natural and man-made disasters (such as drought in East Africa and conflict in Darfur), food insecurity in poor nations, and diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosisthese are all challenges that we have the capability to address, if we mobilize the resources and the political will.
In addition, CARE urges donors to cast the definition of ''affected communities'' broadly. As noted before, a massive investment in certain communities that ignores the needs of impoverished neighbors can cause serious conflicts and imbalances that can thwart economic and social recovery. Indeed, the causes of vulnerability that led to such massive destructionflimsy shelters on precarious sites, inadequate warning systems, lack of assets and insuranceare rooted in poverty. Ultimately, we can help improve peoples' resilience to future natural disasters only if we tackle the underlying conditions of extreme povertynot just along the coastlines, but throughout each affected country.
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The silver lining of this tragedy could be that the tsunami has heightened interest among the American public in reducing extreme poverty in the world. Most Americans mistakenly believe that the U.S. devotes more than 20 percent of the federal budget to foreign assistance when, in fact, funding for humanitarian and development assistance makes up less than one percent of the federal budget, far less than other industrialized nations. The tsunami has generated public debate about our overseas development budget and whether the U.S. has fully realized our leadership potential in this area of foreign policy. This public dialogue creates an opening to raise awareness about the needs and capacities of developing countries, and the means available to effectively tackle extreme poverty in all of its forms.
CARE is a founding member of a broad coalition of U.S. organizations, known as the ONE Campaign, representing more than 3 million donors and members. Our research, done before the tsunami, found that the vast majority of Americansfrom blue and red states alikewould support the U.S. entering into a new partnership with rich and poor countries to cut extreme poverty in half by the year 2015. Such a goal is within our reach. We know what to do and how to do it, but we lack the political will and the resources to bring proven solutions to scale. To do our part would require an additional one percent of the U.S. federal budget, or roughly $25 billion. I know that there are many claimants on the U.S. Treasury this year, but I hope that Congress and the Administration will seize the moment and propose a substantial increase in humanitarian and development funding in the FY06 budget and beyond.
The U.S. Government will have many opportunitiesnow, and in the futureto influence the direction of the tsunami reconstruction effort. On behalf of CARE, I present the following recommendations:
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1. Congress should pass emergency supplemental funding legislation that addresses both the immediate costs associated with the tsunami response, as well as other global humanitarian needs that will otherwise go unmet. CARE supports a $2 billion emergency supplemental bill for humanitarian relief and global food aid.
Of this amount, $1 billion would be devoted: to 1) fully replenish U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) accounts that have been tapped for the $350 million commitment of U.S. assistance; 2) provide an additional $150 million for tsunami relief and reconstruction efforts (bringing the U.S. official commitment to $500 million); and 3) provide $500 million for emergency funding to address humanitarian and security needs in Sudan and elsewhere in Africa and around the world.
CARE proposes that the remaining $1 billion be allocated to U.S. food aid resources, including $70 million for tsunami-related food relief, $300 million to reimburse recent withdrawals from the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust, and the balance to meet the U.S. funding shortfall for global emergency food assistance needs identified by USAID months before the tsunami struck. This would bring the U.S. contribution to food programs to its traditional level of 3540 percent of the global total. We must not cut vital food assistance programs for people in need in other countries. We also ask that previous cuts that have already been made to non-emergency food aid programs this fiscal year be restored.
The U.S. Government should ensure that all U.S. tsunami response funding is ''new money'' that does not draw funds away from other urgent relief and development priorities. This is also an opportunity to educate Americans about U.S. leadership potential in foreign assistance and it should be seized.
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2. As a donor, the U.S. Government should promote the following:
Transparency and Accountability
Given the enormity of this tragedy and the scope of the global response, the allocation and distribution of relief and reconstruction funds must be done transparently with necessary reporting requirements built into grants and loans. National governments and other responding organizations should abide by Sphere humanitarian standards.
Local Ownership and Community Involvement
The involvement of civil society and local communities is essential to successful relief and recovery efforts. Rehabilitation policies and strategies must be based on consultation with communities and local authorities, and must take into account special needs of the most vulnerable groups. Bilateral and multilateral reconstruction efforts must reinforce the importance of local ownership and community involvement.
A Broad, Proactive and Long-term Response
Definitions of ''affected communities'' must be broadly crafted to avoid the pitfalls of targeting aid too narrowly. The tsunami response should be approached as an opportunity to help tackle underlying causes of extreme poverty in the region using leveraged global resources. The U.S. Government should urge conflicting parties to use this opening to promote peace by creating mechanisms for collaboration and dialogue. Particular attention must be paid to developing transparent and inclusive structures for administering and monitoring aid, and to developing policies to guide resettlement.
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The deadly tsunami that struck exactly a month ago, and claimed lives on two distant continents, has left us all with a humbling sense of fragility. It has also underscored our shared humanity, and tapped into the wellsprings of our generosity and compassion. At CARE, we have been heartened and inspired by the outpouring of support for the tsunami response. We deeply appreciate the generous commitment of funding from the U.S. and other governments, the American public, and citizens around the world for our efforts and those of many others. Without this support, CARE and our partner agencies could not mount an effective response to this tragedy. We appreciate the trust that has been placed in us, and we commit to advancing our tsunami response with the highest levels of excellence and accountability.
We know that helping countries and communities recover from the devastation of the tsunami is a very long-term enterprise. We know that we need to approach rebuilding with a timeframe of more than five years in mind, and we will shape our programming strategies, funding mechanisms and staffing structures accordingly. We urge the U.S. Government to reinforce the long-term nature of this effort in its programs and policies.
We hope that the heightened interest in the vulnerability and suffering of poor communities generated by the tsunami will translate not only into broader understanding of the causes and consequences of vulnerability to such disasters, but also into stronger political will to end extreme poverty. Day-in and day-out, in too many parts of the world, poverty, conflict, HIV/AIDS and other diseases take as grim a toll as the tsunami did on December 26. This need not be so, and we must all strive to make a difference for the better. This tragedy presents us with an opportunity to help governments and communities to ''rebuild better,'' strengthening capacity, fostering accountability and promoting peace. We have the chance to demonstrate how we, the international community, can work together not only to address a global problem, but also to create a future that is more peaceful and prosperous.
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Thank you for giving me, on behalf of CARE, the opportunity to testify before you today. I would be pleased to answer your questions.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Dr. Brennan, if you could proceed.
STATEMENT OF DR. RICHARD BRENNAN, DIRECTOR OF HEALTH PROGRAMS, INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE
Dr. BRENNAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank you and the other Committee Members for giving me the opportunity to present my own observations of the current relief effort and some of the challenges facing the aid organizations moving forward in the reconstruction period. I am going to limit my remarks to the province of Aceh in Indonesia, because that is the place that I just returned from a 3-week mission. I would like to provide a full testimony for the record and will just limit my remarks to several key points.
The International Rescue Committee, of which I am the Director of Health Programs, has been operational in Aceh for the last 5 years, where we work as a member of a consortium with three other agencies. We had 22 national staff working in Aceh at the time of the disaster. Fortunately for us, 21 of those 22 survived the tsunami.
As a physician, my main focus during my recent mission in Aceh was on public health needs. The most significant threats to public health right now really relate to limited access to sanitation and clean water. For example, during a recent survey that we conducted in the town of Chalang on the west coast of Aceh, 100 percent of the communitythis is a representative sample100 percent of the community had no access to toilets, 100 percent had no access to clean water, and 85 percent of the children had suffered from diarrhea in the previous 2 weeks.
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Other important public health threats right now relate to diseases such as malaria, measles, dengue fever, and wound infections including tetanus. So currently, from the perspective of the aid agencies working in public health, the number one priority is infectious disease control. And I do think some solid progress is being made in that regard right now.
I think another important public health issue is the variable access to health services throughout Aceh at the present time. Some regions of the province are very well covered by health services, but there are still some of the more remote areas that have much less access to essential health care. And I think at this stage we still need better coordination amongst the relief agencies working in the health sector to meet those very important gaps.
The International Rescue Committee's five emergency response teams are working in four districts throughout Aceh, and we have responded to those needs that I have outlined with a number of interventions, specifically, broad-scale water and sanitation programs. We are involved in a UNICEF-supported measles vaccination program. We are running mobile clinics, we are supporting Ministry of Health clinics, and we have done distributions of drugs to other clinics and to other NGOs, in fact, throughout those districts.
We are also addressing child protection issues, and we have heard how important an issue that is, and we are also supporting livelihood projects.
A very important guiding principle for us in this whole process has been to focus on unmet needs and try to avoid duplication of services with other agencies. There are many agencies providing assistance right now and there has been some duplication of services, and I think again the pressure is on us and the obligation is on us to coordinate our activities so we don't duplicate and we do meet the unmet gaps.
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In moving beyond the emergency phase, I would like to highlight what I think are four challenges for the aid agencies in the reconstruction phase:
The first relates to logistics and access to communities following the departure of international military forces. A number of the previous speakers have highlighted the magnificent work of the U.S. military during the acute emergency, and as an aid worker who was able to hitch a ride on more than one occasion on U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopters, I can certainly add my commendations to the magnificent work that they have conducted, particularly the crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln. I would also like to acknowledge the work of other military forces. The Indonesian military has provided essential medical care and food aid, and the Australian and Singapore militaries have also done themselves proud. I do know that there is some concern about the fact that there may be limited access to some of these communities once the U.S. military departs. But having seen the response of the Indonesian Government donors and the relief agencies, I do feel that there are sufficient resources moving forward to manage the response adequately even after the U.S. Navy moves on to other missions.
The second issue relates to plans to move large numbers of displaced people to relocation camps. The Indonesian Government currently intends to move many of the estimated 400,000 internally displaced people into 24 relocation camps. In certain contexts and for certain communities, such camps may be the best short-term solution to ensure access to essential services. The past experience of agencies such as my own often suggest that such camps are not the best solution for displaced populations, in part because they often become permanent or semi-permanent structures. As far as possible, the International Rescue Committee believes that families who wish to return to their villages to rebuild their homes should be encouraged to do so as soon as practical. And decisions concerning movements to relocation camps only should be made after consultations with the communities and themselves, and such movements to these relocation camps must be voluntary and not coerced.
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The third challenge is the actual process of delivering aid. You know, as a result of mobilization of so many resources, one Acehnese official described the arrival of the international community to me as the second tsunami. I think it is very important that in our enthusiasm to assist the Acehnese people that we don't take the initiative from them and we don't try to control the process. The Acehnese themselves must lead the relief effort, and they must lead the reconstruction effort. And there is an obligation and responsibility of the international relief agencies to actively encourage community participation, to seek out partnerships, and, as Mr. Bell said, to build capacity of local organizations and local institutions. It is only through these processes that we can really empower these communities and lay a foundation for them to rebuild their lives and livelihoods in a dignified manner.
Finally, I think it is very, very important that we see the response to this crisis in a broader context. As compelling as this disaster is, let us not forget that there are a number of other very, very important crises ongoing around the world right now. Last year, I helped to co-lead a nationwide survey in the Democratic Republic of Congo which demonstrated that 31,000 people continue to die every month as a result of that conflict. Based on previous surveys, we now estimate that approximately 3.8 million people have died in the Congo since the onset of that conflict in 1998. That makes the Congo conflict the deadliest war anywhere in the world since the end of the Second World War. It is staggering to us that such an important humanitarian crisis gets so little attention from world leaders and from the media.
Clearly there are other important crises as well that aren't getting the attention in proportion to humanitarian need. Northern Uganda is a good example of some of the humanitarian crises in West Africa right now.
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Let us remember also, as Chairman Hyde mentioned in his introductory remarks, that when the media and the spotlight is taken off Aceh, that we continue to follow through in our commitments that we have made in these early stages and stick it out with the Acehnese people as they attempt to rebuild their lives and their livelihoods.
Mr. Chairman, I really appreciate the opportunity to address the Committee today. Thank you.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Dr. Brennan, thank you very much for your firsthand account and for the insights you have provided. And you don't look at all jetlagged.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Brennan follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DR. RICHARD BRENNAN, DIRECTOR OF HEALTH PROGRAMS, INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE
Chairman Hyde, Ranking Minority Member Lantos and distinguished Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me today to discuss the current relief efforts and future challenges for reconstruction following the December 26 earthquake and tsunami that have devastated much of South and South-east Asia and east Africa. I will limit my remarks to Indonesia, and more specifically the province of Aceh on the island of Sumatra, from where I have just returned. Mr. Chairman, I would like to provide a copy of my full testimony for the record, and limit my remarks to a few main points.
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RESPONSE OF THE INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE TO THE TSUNAMI
The International Rescue Committee has been operational in Aceh for the past five years, where we work as a member of a consortium together with Danish, Norwegian, and Dutch refugee agencies. Prior to the tsunami, all of our staff were Achenese. Twenty one of our 22 employees survived the disaster. But they all lost friends and family members, and many have lost their homes. Our offices in the capital city of Banda Aceh were destroyed.
In response to the disaster, IRC has deployed five emergency response teams to four districts throughout Aceh. We now have more than 30 international staff on the ground, working alongside national staff and local partners to meet emergency needs in the areas of water, sanitation, basic medical care, child protection and livelihoods. Our teams have conducted rapid assessments, the results of which have been shared with the humanitarian community.
As a physician, my main focus has been on public health needs. While there have been no reports of epidemics or elevations in mortality since the disaster, several major threats to public health persist. The most significant among these is poor access to clean water and sanitation, and the resultant risk of diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid. For example, a survey that we conducted in the town of Calang indicated that 100% of households lacked access to both a clean water source and a toilet. 85% of young children in the town suffered from diarrhea. Other important health threats include malaria, dengue fever, measles, and wound infections, including tetanus.
Page 170 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Currently, the highest priority must therefore be given to infectious disease control. Clear strategies have been developed by health agencies, including the Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF, to tackle most infectious diseases and coordination is improving. The main exception is measles control, where a mass vaccination campaign appears to be lagging behind target.
Access to medical and public health services is extremely variable throughout the province. Many health facilities have been destroyed and there has been a substantial loss of Ministry of Health personnel; for example, of 481 staff in the provincial health office only 200 have been confirmed alive and only 20% have reported for duty as of January 20. Throughout Aceh some of the larger towns and settlements have good access to health services operated by a combination of the ministry of health, Indonesian military, and international NGOs (e.g. Calang, Meulaboh). But many sites are still underserved and better coordination among health agencies is required to address these gaps.
We must also ensure that we meet the special health needs of women and ensure that they have access to emergency obstetric care. Efforts in this area are currently insufficient. The Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) of reproductive health services should be implemented as a priority.
IRC emergency response teams have responded to these findings with a range of interventions, including water and sanitation services, measles vaccination, operation of stationary clinics, mobile clinics, and drug distributions. An important guiding principle during the emergency has been to meet urgent unmet public health needs and to avoid duplication of effort with other agencies. Services are presently being scaled up in all four districts where IRC is operational. A recent grant of $2.5 million by the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance will assist us significantly in these efforts.
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In moving beyond the emergency phase, I would like to highlight four challenges to the post-tsunami reconstruction in Aceh.
The first relates to logistics and access to communities following the departure of the international military forces. Because of the widespread destruction of roads and bridges as well as the remoteness of many areas, access to affected populations was initially extremely difficult. Only a handful of humanitarian agencies had early access to the helicopters and boats that were essential for reaching these communities. In this context, the contributions of several military forces, especially the US Navy and the Indonesian military, have been central to the success of the relief effort.
The crew of the USS Lincoln, in particular, has played an outstanding role. They have contributed in a number of important ways: by identifying communities in need; by delivering much-needed food, water and medicines; by evacuating critically ill individuals from remote areas; and by providing essential logistical support to the international relief agencies. In Aceh, my colleagues and I were consistently impressed by the professionalism, the cooperation, and the commitment demonstrated by the Navy personnel. In addition, they seemed to be enjoying the work and finding it very fulfilling. Most military personnel are not trained in humanitarian relief and, while their methods were at times unorthodox and may not have met accepted standards, I have no doubt that their efforts saved many lives following the tsunami. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the work of LCDR Ramon Cestero and LCDR Scott Cota, as well as their superior officers, for the outstanding support that they provided to IRC and other agencies.
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I know there has been some concern about the timetable for the departure of the U.S. military and the gaps in services that may then result. Given the level of response that the Indonesian government and the international NGOs have been able to mount, and the generous support of donors, I am confident that the resources are available to manage the response going forward.
The second issue relates to the Indonesian government's plans to move large numbers of displaced persons to relocation camps. There are currently an estimated 400,000 internally displaced persons throughout Aceh, many of whom have sought refuge in one of over 300 spontaneous settlements. The Indonesian government plans to move many of these persons to one of 24 proposed relocation camps, for the expressed purposes of ensuring that they have access to essential services. In certain contexts and for certain communities, such arrangements may be the best short-term option. But past experience suggests that camps are generally not the best solution for displaced populations, in part because they often become permanent or semi-permanent structures. In addition, given the recent conflict in Aceh, there may be political as well as humanitarian motives for establishing the camps.
As far as possible, families who wish to return to their villages to rebuild their homes should be encouraged to do so as soon as is practical. For those families who do not wish to return, options for resettlement in another community should be sought. Decisions concerning movement of persons to relocation camps should only be made in consultation with the communities themselves and such movements should be voluntary.
Thus far, the working relationships between the Indonesian government, the Indonesian military and the international agencies have generally been positive. But these relationships could deteriorate if it becomes apparent that the motivations for establishing the camps are more political than humanitarian, and if the movement of communities is not voluntary.
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The third challenge is the process of delivering aid. The disaster has generated so much international attention and resulted in the mobilization of so many resources that one Acehnese official described the arrival of the international community as ''the second tsunami''. In our enthusiasm to assist the Acehnese people we must first listen to them and then we must work with them. We must not delude ourselves into thinking that, because of our experience and our resources, that we have the answers to their problems. The people of Aceh must lead both the relief and reconstruction efforts. The international agencies must actively encourage community participation, seek out partnerships with local organizations, and work to build local capacity. Through such processes, we can empower communities and help lay the foundations for them to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
Finally, we must see our response to this disaster within a wider context. As compelling as this emergency is, let us not forget that there are other major crises in other countries. Last year I helped to lead a nation-wide survey in the Democratic Republic of Congo that demonstrated that 31,000 people continue to die every month due to the ongoing insecurity. The International Rescue Committee estimates that 3.8 million people have died in Congo since the onset of war in 1998, making it the world's deadliest conflict since World War II. Yet world leaders and the media have largely ignored Congo and the international response remains completely out of proportion to the humanitarian need. Other humanitarian crises in places such as northern Uganda and Darfur, Sudan also demand our attention and our constructive engagement. Let us also remember that when the media spotlight turns away from Aceh and other areas impacted by the tsunami that we have a responsibility to continue to assist the survivors in the long process of rebuilding their lives an their livelihoods.
Page 174 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, thank you for giving me the opportunity to address the Committee.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Ms. Khan.
STATEMENT OF MS. AFSHAN KHAN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY OPERATIONS, UNITED STATES FUND FOR UNICEF, PUBLIC POLICY AND ADVOCACY
Ms. KHAN. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to present testimony on behalf of UNICEF. I have prepared a written statement, and I ask that it be submitted for the record. I will briefly summarize it in my oral remarks.
By now, many of you have already spoken to the fact that more than a third of the victims in the Indian Ocean tsunami crisis were children. Millions have suffered the loss of parents, teachers, and other family members. The reconstruction of schools and health facilities will cost billions of dollars and take years to complete. Yet this is only the beginning of what will be needed to help the tsunami generation rebuild their lives.
Up front, I think we would like to thank the U.S. Government for its support. But also, equally importantly, the public response in the U.S. to this tsunami crisis has been unprecedented. The public response has ranged from things like NBC 4 initiating the first televised fundraising drive, the NBA Players Association helping to contribute to UNICEF, and additionally, schools in Brooklyn helping through a read-a-thon fundraising drive there.
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So I think the local and community response is something that we, from the aid assistance community, have to be both thankful for, respectful of, and see how this can be galvanized to support some of the forgotten emergencies that many of my colleagues have spoken to, whether it is Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, or other places.
Finally, I think I would like to, with others, extend our thanks to the U.S. military. It has been an incredible support for us in terms of logistics. Several people have mentioned already the USS Abraham Lincoln in terms of its support for recent interagency health assessment on the west coast of Indonesia. This assessment was made up of 24 individuals from U.N. agencies and NGOs, and was only possible as a result of logistical support from the United States. It covered numerous sites previously unassessed on the west coast using four operating teams simultaneously and supported by U.S. helicopters for dropoff and pickup. So I think that has been another great partnership.
In terms of the calamity itself, I think none of us could have been prepared for the type of calamity that has taken place. Many of us have had existing programs on the ground; like our colleagues, UNICEF had preexisting programs in all of the affected countries. We were able to respond very quickly. Mr. Natsios spoke of the water purification that USAID was able to roll out. UNICEF, for example in Sri Lanka, had existing programs on the ground in terms of the earlier floods that put out water purification tablets, informed communities in local languages how those materials are needed to be used and what needed to be done. And this was an important part of partnering with local communities to deal with the response immediately and effectively.
Page 176 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC UNICEF and its partners have helped to ensure that there is clean water in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand, even as far as away as Somalia. We are supplying special feeding for malnourished children and pregnant women, and latrines have been established for tens of thousands of displaced living in camps. We are providing health kits and basic supplies like clothing and plastic tarps to provide shelter. In short, good nutrition can help guard against disease. And we have undertaken vaccination campaigns against deadly illnesses such as measles.
In the aftermath of the tsunami, as Dr. Brennan has pointed out, one of the most immediate concerns to emerge was the fear of disease. For this reason, vaccination campaigns throughout the area was one of UNICEF's first priorities. In India, measles and vitamin A drives began within days of the disaster, and by January 7th, less than 2 weeks after the tsunami, these campaigns have already wrapped up on the mainland. The remote islands of Andaman and Nicobar took longer to reach, but thanks to leadership and cooperation with the Indian Government, immunization of children is well underway.
In the Aceh region, as Dr. Brennan has pointed out, more than 75 percent of health care professionals are still unaccounted for. We are working in close collaboration with key partners, including WHO, Medecins sans Frontieres, IFRC, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to provide measles vaccines and vitamin A supplements to over half a million children that are between the age of 6 months and 15 years. There are challenges both in terms of access and coordination, and Dr. Brennan has referred to those.
We are also providing basic drugs and supplies for health facilities to cover 1.2 million people, including a million sachets of oral rehydration salts and malaria treatments for 3.2 million other people.
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Much discussion has happened during this testimony about the plight of unaccompanied and separated children. Though the full picture is yet to emerge, the number of these children would appear to be relatively small. Such was the devastation of the tsunami that, in many areas, few children at all were left behind, unaccompanied or otherwise. The force of the wave simply swept small children away. And our staff on the ground have all been struck by the number of children who were actually killed in the tsunami largely because they were young babies, small children, and just carried away by the waves. Nevertheless, protecting those children that have been lost or become separated from their families is an urgent priority. Thankfully, as Mr. Natsios already pointed out, extended family and community protection mechanisms are functioning well, with almost all separated children being cared for by relatives or by members of the child's own community.
At the same time, UNICEF and key partners have established centers throughout the affected regions in order to register children and, where possible, begin tracing their families. These efforts have been supported as well by USAID and others.
In terms of medium- and long-term care arrangements, as Ms. McCollum pointed out, there is follow-up that is needed in terms of social networks, NGOs to assist families to keep children, food and nutrition and nonfood items being provided to families who are fostering and providing support, and, very importantly, restoring livelihoods of these people so that child protection continues to be part of the longer-term objectives of communities at hand.
Even as we attend to these immediate survival needs, we are trying to do everything possible to reestablish a sense of routine and normalcy to children's lives. That is one of our top priorities in any emergency, is getting children back to school. As any parent knows, children receive more from school than just an education. In uncertain times, schools provide a sense of security, they offer a place where children can gather and feel safe, and where they can interact and share experiences. Returning to school helps children cope with the devastating psychological effects of disaster, and it gives hope that one day life may return to normal.
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The tsunami exacted a terrible toll on school facilities in all of the affected areas, but the region of Aceh was particularly hard hit. Preliminary government estimates indicate that over 1,100 schools have been damaged, nearly one-third of the total; almost 1,600 teachers are dead or missing, and many others have been traumatized.
It will be equally important, as Members pointed out here, that in terms of revisions of school curriculum and getting schools back up and going, we not only build back but we build back better. And that will mean ensuring that in school curriculum, some basic lessons on disaster preparedness and survival are built in so this type of tragedy doesn't affect children as badly again.
As classes resume in Indonesia and elsewhere, it will be crucial to ensure the provision of safe water and sanitation facilities. In many countries, UNICEF is leading the U.N. in the area of safe water and environmental sanitation for schools, health facilities, and throughout the community. With strong logistical support from the United States, Australia, and affected governments themselves, UNICEF has helped to provide clean water, chlorination tablets, latrines, and oral rehydration salts.
The water and sanitation situation continues to be precarious in some areas, but we are hoping with partners on the ground we can identify troubled spots so we can address them quickly and continue to prevent any major outbreak of disease.
But assistance, as my colleagues have pointed out, doesn't stop when the threat of disease subsides and the first day of school is over. Already, the future is much on our minds, and even as we grieve for the dead and assess the destruction, there is an opportunity to make life better for the children who survived. UNICEF is mindful of the fact that over the next 2 to 3 years we have got to think strategically in order to turn this tragedy into an opportunity.
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As earlier witnesses pointed out, one of the most important dividends that could arise from this disaster would be peace, and we hope that we can use this opportunity to move peace forward. In the Aceh region of Indonesia, the past few weeks have nourished a hope, however fragile, that peace may finally take hold. The Government of Indonesia has expressed its intention to hold talks with the GAM, something that was inconceivable a few months ago. An informal cease-fire between the two sides is facilitating the safe delivery of relief supplies to populations in need. Despite recent setbacks, I think this progress is too real to ignore.
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, I have tried to provide you with a brief look at what we at UNICEF are doing in the region to assist the victims of tsunami, but I cannot conclude my remarks without acknowledging the crucial support of the U.S. in facilitating our endeavors, the logistical support I mentioned earlier, and the partnerships with the NGO communities that we work with on the ground.
Let me just conclude by saying that UNICEF will stand fast in our commitment to support children and their families into the future, and, just as we were present in these countries when this terrible disaster struck, we will remain there for as long as it takes to ensure health safety and equality for every child. Thank you.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Ms. Khan, thank you very much for your excellent testimony, and for the good work of UNICEF. And your full statement and that of our other distinguished witnesses will be made a part of the record.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Khan follows:]
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF MS. AFSHAN KHAN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY OPERATIONS, UNITED STATES FUND FOR UNICEF, PUBLIC POLICY AND ADVOCACY
Mr. Chairman, and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to present testimony on UNICEF's response to aid victims of the tsunami.
The events of three weeks ago shook the world. Within hours of the massive waves spreading havoc across the Indian Ocean, another kind of wave was gathering momentuma wave of grief, of sympathy, and of response by the international community.
The sheer scale of this disaster is difficult to imagine let alone calculate. Some five million people of all ages and nationalities have been affected in a dozen countries. A third of the victims were children, perhaps moreand many now suffer the loss of parents and other family members. The reconstruction effort will cost billions of dollars, and take many years. No one could be prepared for such a calamity. Nevertheless, since UNICEF had pre-existing programs in all of the affected countries, we could respond quickly.
Within hours of the disaster, our country offices had mobilized, undertaking rapid assessments to establish the needs of the affected populations. At the same time, informed by decades of experience in emergencies, our warehouse in Copenhagen immediately dispatched planeloads of key relief supplies that are critical in any disaster, such as water purification tablets, oral re-hydration salts, vaccines, and vitamin A supplements. Pre-positioned supplies that had not been damaged by the waves were distributed throughout the affected areas.
Page 181 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC UNICEF declared an organization-wide emergency, mobilizing staff all over the world and making the tsunami response priority number one. As a result of this extraordinary step, our staff has been able to accomplish some important results for hundreds of thousands of children in a very short period of time. The United States has provided UNICEF and the United Nations in general with invaluable logistical support. In particular, the United States has provided support in Indonesia for the regular movement of staff down the West Coast to Meulaboh and they have provided helicopter support to move urgent supplies to isolated areas on the West Coast. In addition, the United States has provided support through the air force for the movement of staff from Jakarta to Banda Aceh on their Herc C-130s that go daily.
UNICEF and its partners have helped ensure that there is clean water in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and even as far away as Somalia. Latrines have been established for the tens of thousands of displaced living in camps. We have provided health kits and basic supplies like clothing and plastic tarps to provide shelter, ensure good nutrition, and guard against disease. And we have undertaken vaccination campaigns against deadly illnesses such as measles.
The results of these life-saving interventions have been cause for hope. We are all aware that early fears of cholera and diarrhea outbreaks prompted many to speculate that the death toll would double. Thankfully, this has not happened.
Vaccination campaigns throughout the affected areas were one of UNICEF's earliest priorities. In India, measles and vitamin A drives began within days of the disaster, and by January 7th these campaigns had already wrapped up on the mainland. The remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands took longer to reach, but thanks to the leadership and cooperation of the Indian government, immunization of children is now well underway.
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In the Aceh region of Indonesia, where over 75% of health care professionals are still unaccounted for, we are working in close collaboration with key partners including the World Health Organization, Médecins sans Frontières, IFRC, Care, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide measles vaccines and vitamin A supplements to over half a million children between the ages of six months and fifteen years. We are also providing basic drugs and supplies for health facilities to cover 1.2 million people, including 1 million sachets of oral rehydration salts, malaria treatment for 3.2 million people, 2,700,000 iron tablets, 68,000 syringes, and 11,500 safety boxes.
UNICEF also participated in the recent inter-agency health assessment on the west coast of Indonesia. This assessment was made up of 24 individuals from United Nations agencies and NGOs, and was only possible as a result of logistical support from the United States. It covered numerous sites previously un-assessed on the West Coast, using four teams operating simultaneously and supported by United States helicopters for drop-off and pick-up. The assessment took six days in total and the team was hosted on the USS Lincoln. Without United States military support, this health assessment would not have been possible. It has been invaluable as the only real consolidated source of information for health on the West Coast of Indonesia, and includes many action points covering health, water and sanitation and logistics.
UNACCOMPANIED AND SEPARATED CHILDREN
Apart from Indonesia, where the situation remains unclear, it appears that the numbers of separated and unaccompanied children are lower than originally expected, largely because the proportion of children's deaths have been high. Many families find themselves without children.
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While the number of children who have lost one or both parents is still coming into focus, UNICEF is working with key partners to track and document these children. In these countries, extended family and community protection mechanisms function and almost all separated children are cared for by relatives or family already known to the child. Still, the family fabric and children's lives have been dramatically affected creating new vulnerabilities. UNICEF and our partners' tracking, registering and reunification efforts are an immediate action to help protect children and their families.
At the same time, however, UNICEF and our partners are looking at medium and longer term protection by establishing child-friendly centers and getting children back into the safe environment of a school. Establishment of these child-friendly spaces has been made possible, in part due to generous support from USAID. Tracing mechanisms to find lost family members have been put in place. For now, children who are no longer in the care of their families will be protected and supported through these centers so that they are not abandoned or left to fend for themselves, but have the opportunity to go to school, eat well and play.
At every turn, coordination with partners has formed a crucial part of our response. The Australians, Indians, Japanese, and many other governments have also provided crucial assistance. European nations have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the aid effort. Sister UN agencies like the World Food Program, the World Health Organization and others play enormously important roles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been an invaluable partner from the beginning, providing UNICEF and WHO with technical assistance, making seasoned experts available quickly and dispatching them to the field to join our health teams. And the affected governments themselves have shown extraordinary leadership and commitment. They are very much in charge, and their role in coordinating the relief efforts has played a critical role in how UNICEF, the United Nations, NGOs and bilateral entities are working together.
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I am confident that this collaboration will continue as we make the difficult transition from relief to recovery. This process has already begun in some of the affected areas, and UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to rehabilitate many of the vital facilities that are the lifeblood of any community. In many countries UNICEF has been asked to take the lead in several key sectors, including education, psychosocial support and water and sanitation.
I would like to give you a snapshot of UNICEF interventions in some of the countries hardest hit by the disaster. UNICEF's activities go well beyond what I can describe here, but by providing concrete examples, I hope to offer a glimpse of our response to the tsunami crisis.
UNICEF RESPONSE PRIORITIES
One of our top priorities is getting children back to school. As any parent knows, children receive much more from school than just an education. In uncertain times schools provide a sense of security. They offer a place where children can gather and feel safe, where they can interact and share experiences. Returning to school helps children cope with the devastating psychological effects of disaster. It gives them hope that life will one day return to normal.
The tsunami exacted a terrible toll on school facilities in all of the affected areas, but the region of Aceh was particularly hard hit. Preliminary government assessments indicate that over 1,100 schools have been damagednearly one-third of the total. Almost 1,600 teachers are dead or missing, and many others have been traumatized. In response, UNICEF is shipping literally tons of educational materials, including 2,000 school tents, 2,000 school-in-a-box kits (each containing learning supplies for 50 students) and 2,000 recreation kits (each with sports and games for 50 children) to Indonesia. These supplies will support the more than 100,000 school children and 4,000 teachers in the affected areas of Aceh. Through these and other efforts, UNICEF is assisting the Government of Indonesia to meet its goal of re-opening schools this weekexactly one month after the tsunami struck.
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Even once schools have re-opened, however, the psychological impact on 'the tsunami generation' is likely to be deep and long-term, and will require sustained psychosocial care. Throughout the affected areas, we are supporting community- and school-based psychosocial responses to help children cope with the enduring impacts of this tragedy.
In Sri Lanka, UNICEF is training non-governmental partners, teachers and local authorities in psychosocial response, including developing projects where children can help each other. In the districts of Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Kirinda, UNICEF and its partners have established spaces in displacement camps where children can learn and play safely, where they can interact with each other in a stable environment. Thousands of play kits, including toys, puzzles and sports equipment, are being distributed. Through play, drawing and other activities, Sri Lankan children are coming to terms with the terrible losses they have suffered. UNICEF is also assisting the Government of Sri Lanka in its own psychosocial response, providing technical assistance and coordination support to local medical authorities.
UNICEF is leading the UN in many countries in the area of Water and Environmental Sanitation. With strong logistical support from governments like the United States, Australia and national governments themselves, UNICEF has helped to provide clean water, chlorination tablets, latrines, and oral rehydration salts. The water and sanitation situation is precarious in some areas, but UNICEF and our partners are on the ground identifying trouble spots so that we can address them quickly and continue to prevent any major outbreaks of disease.
In the Maldives, water and sanitation has proved to be the greatest challenge. The extremely low altitude of these islands rendered them especially vulnerable to damage and contamination of water supplies and sewage systems. As early as December 28, UNICEF estimated that one in five islands in the Maldives was without drinking water, and all three water purification plants were stretched to capacity. Compounding the problem, virtually every household on the affected islands reported blocked or damaged sewage systems.
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Fortunately, even before the tsunami, UNICEF and the Government of Maldives had a pre-existing partnership in water and sanitation, including preparedness plans to respond to emergencies. As a result, UNICEF and the Government were able quickly to provide temporary water and sanitation facilities. We also distributed Basic Family Water Kits, containing collapsible buckets, bars of soap and purification tablets, including instructions on their use in the local language. Currently, we are helping the government to construct latrines, and we are supplying hundreds of wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes, disinfectant, and other cleaning equipment to address the problem of garbage disposal. All told, UNICEF and its partners are assisting 69 islands with over 13,000 households. Planning for long-term rehabilitation of sanitation facilities has already begun.
Water and sanitation assistance in Indonesia has also been crucial. In Banda Aceh and Aceh Besar districts, we are pumping and chlorinating 1,500 wells to benefit 15,000 people, and supplying mobile water treatment units at six locations along both East and West Coasts to benefit 25,000 people. Construction of emergency latrines has become particularly important as heavy rains raise the water tables, and UNICEF is working urgently to meet this need. We are also providing bathing and washing facilities for 43,000 people in settlements for the displaced.
In Sri Lanka, we have distributed hundreds of tons of water and sanitation supplies, including bottled drinking water, water purification tablets, water tanks, pumps, jerry cans, and family water kits, to name but a few. We have constructed more than 1,500 temporary latrines, and are supporting the establishment of women's bathing facilities at relocation sites for the displaced.
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But, our assistance does not stop once the threat of diseases subsides and the first day of school is over. In UNICEF, we often say we work in a country before, during and after an emergency. And it's trueif you travel to Sri Lanka or Aceh in a year or two, you will see our staff helping governments and civil society reconstruct school buildings and health clinics.
The future is very much on our minds. Even as we grieve for the dead and assess the destruction, there is an opportunity to make life better for the children who survived in the affected areas, and in these countries as a whole. UNICEF is mindful of the fact that over the next two to three years we have to think strategically in order to turn tragedy into opportunity.
One of the most important dividends that could arise from this disaster would be peace. In Sri Lanka, the initial good will expressed by the Government and the LTTE to cooperate in the wake of the tsunami has largely dissipated through disputes over how the relief effort is to be specifically managed. Yet as the Secretary-General has made clear, the United Nations does have a role to play in bringing the parties to the conflict together to agree on how best to organize the response, and to use this as an opportunity to move the peace process forward. UNICEF will do its part to support this.
Similarly, in the Aceh region of Indonesia, the past few weeks have nourished a hope, however fragile, that peace may finally take hold. The Government of Indonesia has expressed its intention to hold talks with the GAM, something that was all but inconceivable a few months ago. An informal ceasefire between the two sides is facilitating the safe delivery of relief supplies to populations in need. Despite recent setbacks, these signs of progress are too real to ignore.
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Other opportunities presented by the tsunami may be less visible, but are no less significant. UNICEF's strategic vision is to keep children at the heart of the tsunami response through specific focus on the upgrading of health and nutrition, water and sanitation, education, and social welfare and protection services. Our goal is not only to rebuild what has been destroyed, but to 'build back better'better schools, better health facilities, and better opportunities for children. To meet this goal, UNICEF will join the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and our sister UN Agencies in rehabilitating and reconstructing health and education infrastructure with a specific emphasis on primary health care facilities and primary and secondary schools.
UNICEF will support the reconstruction of child-friendly schools and utilize the opportunity to train new education professionals in child-friendly teaching methods. Health facilities will receive new equipment and supplies. Opportunities like these will be especially important in heavily-damaged areas such as Aceh, where health and education services were far less developed than in other regions of Indonesia.
An illustrative example of precisely these kinds of opportunities is revealed in Bam, Iran. As you will no doubt recall, nearly one year to the day before the tsunami disaster, a massive earthquake in Bam, Iran killed 30,000 people, and left another 80,000 homeless. One year later, we can look to Bam as a model for the concept of 'building back better.' A massive amount of rebuilding still remains, and thousands of children continue to receive their daily lessons in tents. But UNICEF is still there, with its partners, working to provide for children affected by that tragedy. UNICEF has trained more than a thousand teachers in psychosocial support. It has supplied mobile libraries and arranged a preparatory course for 400 university entrants. UNICEF has introduced life skills and hygiene education, child-friendly school principles and counseling. In Bam we see how much remains to be done. But we also see how much can be achieved.
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UNICEF will stand fast in our commitment to support children and their families into the future. We thank you for the opportunity to participate in this hearing.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. I do have a few questions before yielding to my good friend Eni Faleomavaega. To start off, you did make the point that the number of children who seemingly are at risk perhaps of being exploited is relatively small. And I do want to applaud the efforts of UNICEF in going very swiftly into action in registering children, getting a count so that children do not slip through the cracks for a myriad of reasons, so that they can get the kind of help that they so desperately need. So thank you for that.
Perhaps UNICEF will be bringing together best practices that have been learned from that, and certainly that should be made available to us, if you would, so that we can use our means of getting it out as well.
I think it is also important, and you might want to speak on one of the aspects of the new bill I am going to introduce next week on trafficking. As you may or may not know, I have worked very vigorously on those issues in the past. My concern has only been exacerbated by the revelations of what has gone on in the Congo and the U.N.'s own investigation unit which found, after a 4-month look, with 11 investigators doing I think very tough and difficult work, that U.N. peacekeepers were complicit in trafficking and in the exploitation of young girls, some as young as 12 and 13. In addition, one of the opportunities in this area is to train the Indonesian Army and other armies about trafficking, about exploitation and the impact it has, and especially to get the chain of command much more sensitized that they have a role to play, and a key role. And I would hope that you might speak to that with regards to UNICEF and the TNI and other militaries that you are dealing with.
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I do have a question. Dr. Brennan, you talked about unmet needs. It was said earlier by Mr. Natsios, our Administrator, that it is likely that the supplemental for Iraq will also include this supplemental. I think you didn't give a number, although, Mr. Bell, you talked about $2 billion as being a number that would be very, very helpful. If you could speak to the unmet needs issue.
We had even a very, very good conversation with health care providers in Sri Lanka in Colombo. One thing that struck me in each of the places that we visited, was the mental health component. Infectious diseases I think everybody recognizes, as you said so well, rise to the top; you have got to get a handle on that. But this mental health trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder that will manifest itself very quickly among children in nightmares, is also serious. I can't tell you how many people told our delegation individually and as well collectively, ''I am not building next to the water.'' They all want homes, they all want houses, but they want a window of protection, if you will, or a buffer zone, if you will, because they are so fearful of another tsunami. And the fact that there were some false alarms about tsunamis after the big one only made their fears grow significantly. The unmet needs issue.
Also, Dr. Brennan, if you could address reports we have that the Indonesian Army is building 24, what they call semipermanent barracks camps for IDPs, with an unknown process for selecting beneficiaries and uncertainty regarding whether people will go there willingly. What do you know about this move by the Indonesian military since you just returned? And to what extent have local governments discussed putting displaced people into those camps? And what should we do as the international community in reaction to the possibility that those camps will be established? Ms. Khan, if you could.
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Ms. KHAN. Thank you. I think first I would like to talk about some of the efforts on the continuing of strengthening child protection in the region, because, as several people noted, there have been issues of trafficking in southeast Asia. In particular, the crisis does put children more at risk, and we think there are six principal areas in terms of strengthening child protection.
The first is support and monitoring of vulnerable children, including the review of placement. Second is public awareness of child protection, especially preventative measures. Third, strengthening the local social services network. Fourth, improving on systems of reporting, investigation, and prosecuting child protection abuses. Fifth, the birth registration systems where coverage is not complete. And sixth, involving youth support groups in the reconstruction effort. But it is also clear that the long-term child protection investment is labor intensive, costly, and critical to long-term well-being of children.
With respect to the proposal regarding trafficking, I would just like to say that UNICEF would look forward to working with the Committee, offering our expertise in any way we can. It is a very important issue. I think it is a privilege that you all have carried it forward to where it is now, and any technical advice we can offer we would be more than willing to do so.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you.
Dr. BRENNAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In terms of unmet needs, I would break them down into three main areas from my perspective right now: One would just be geographic coverage of essential health services. I think in larger population centers like Banda Aceh, Chalang, Lamno, Malavo, there is a good concentration of agencies providing health services. I think what is less appreciated is that there are other areas, particularly up in the hills, more inland, where the U.S. Navy did a great job of highlighting these communities that were basically isolated from the early aid efforts. I don't think that they have at this stage as good coverage. And up until relatively recently, the only way to access those communities has been through helicopters.
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I think the recent interagency assessment that Ms. Khan just outlined will give us a better sense of where those communities are, what their specific needs are, and I think then the health agencies must coordinate among themselves to make sure that they cover those communities.
Mental health and psychosocial needs are clearly going to be critical. And I think that when we talk about the mental health issues it is very, very important to remember that the best way to address mental health issues is through the psychosocial interventions. Only a relatively small proportion of the population undergoing stress like a disaster require psychiatric care. We don't need to send troops of psychiatrists over there. What we need to do is, as Ms. Khan said, help children and their families normalize their lives as much as possible. Help them rebuild, rebuild their livelihoods, get the fathers back to work, get the children back into school, give them a sense that they have some sort of control over their lives. So a good balance between the psychosocial and the rebuilding of livelihoods. There is only going to be a relatively small need for specific psychiatric and/or mental health services. But I think all the psychosocial interventions are going to be very, very important for the mental health issues in general.
I think another area of unmet need right now is reproductive health and women's health issues, especially as it relates to emergency obstetric care. The ranks of health professionals are really decimated in Aceh. For example, in the district of Aceh Jaya, all 10 physicians were killed. In most of these villages they had a midwife, a trained community midwife who manned a health post. In most of the villages we visited, those people are gone and so are the health posts. You have seen the west coast, so you know the devastation. The health facilities are gone, and the health professionals are gone. So we really need to make sure that women, during pregnancy, have access to emergency obstetric care services. I think communities need to be trained, referral systems need to be set up, and a priority established on reducing maternal and neonatal mortality.
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I think also related to reproductive health, the issue of gender-based violence we know that follows disasters; rates of gender-based violence and sexual exploitation can increase, not only just of children but of women in general. And with a strong military presence, we have to be mindful of that issue. And you mentioned yourself the need to train military, raise their awareness of sexual exploitation, and I think we need to raise that awareness more generally on gender-based violence issues.
In terms of the response of the 24 camps, I think a lot of this is still unknown. We know that there are an estimated 400,000 displaced persons right now throughout Aceh, and only 24 camps are being proposed. Clearly, 24 camps are not going to be able to accommodate all those people. We are not hearing of populations of 20- to 30,000 in these camps. People are talking about, from what we have heard from officials, estimates are about 2- to 3,000 per camp. So it appears that the vast majority of people are not going to be relocated into those settlements, but the process for selection of those communities is still rather unclear to us.
I spoke to one general who was verywho suggested that people may even be coerced. But, going back to that community, one of my colleagues went back to that community and he was struck, anecdotally, by how much community consultation had been conducted in the laying of the foundations for that camp.
That was in the town of Chalung where the communitythe initial plans were to build the settlement down on the flat, at sea level. The community said, ''We won't go there. We need to have the settlement built up in the hills.'' And so they worked together with the military on that issue. So I think the jury is a little bit out still on some of the motives behind this.
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I think that, again, in my own anecdotal experience dealing with local officials and the military in Aceh, it seemed to be a joint decision between the local government officials and the military. My sense was, you know, being cautiously optimistic, that their motivations were appropriate and were humanitarian, primarily, but it is something that we need to monitor. And, as I mentioned during my testimony, I think that we have to make sure that any such movements are voluntary, the community is consulted in that process. I think that we can also do some advocacy with the authorities ourselves, those of us who have experience, to make the point that settlements such as these are usually not the best solution for displaced persons.
Mr. BELL. While I agree with all the comments that my colleagues have made, let me just make a few additional comments.
First, in terms of unmet needs generally, I think the wild card in all of this is, in a sense, Indonesia. Even today, we still haven't got our arms completely around the magnitude of the disaster there. The numbers keep rising day after day.
We may know a little bit more after today. Today was to have been the first day of school in Aceh, and we will see how that went. But even if only a small portion of children were able to attend the schools that are standing, it will be a move forward in their lives.
Today was also the day in which members of the Indonesian Government and authorities of the GAM were to meet in Finland, and we will see how those negotiations proceed.
Page 195 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Beyond that, most of our agencies right now are in the midst of medium-term to longer-term planning. We know in broad outline how we wish to proceed and are coordinating with other agencies and, most importantly perhaps, with the governments in the various countries. But within the next few weeks we ought to have a much better handle on our strategies and approaches.
With regard to child trafficking and the exploitation of children generally, I do want to underline, yes, there is a special vulnerability in a sometimes chaotic situation right after a disaster and especially one of the magnitude that has just occurred. But we see in country after country where there is extreme poverty, children are particularly vulnerable.
Shortly before my trip to South Asia 2 weeks ago, I traveled to West Africa. While visiting Togo, I focused specifically on the issue of child trafficking. Extremely poor families are giving up their children to traffickers in hopes that they will find, ''better families,'' who can afford to feed them and pay them for their labor.
So while that situation of child trafficking needs to be faced in and of itself, there is also a need to get at the underlying problem of lack of education and livelihood on the part of those families.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you.
Ms. KHAN. I would just like to come back to this issue of children and vulnerability and child protection. I think both the Indonesian and Malaysian Governments have taken steps to protect illegal movement of children, and both Indonesia and Sri Lanka have placed a moratorium on adoption right now to allow necessary tracing and family reunification to take place.
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As an intermediate measure, UNICEF has also ensured that a police officer will be based in each of the 25 child-friendly spaces that are established in Aceh to help with the psychosocial rehabilitation of children. We are also seeking enhanced security in the camps in Sri Lanka. We are providing protection, training to staff working in the child-friendly spaces, including a code of conduct which holds all humanitarian workers and partners accountable with respect to sexual exploitation of local populations.
And I think I would also like to refer to the interagency standing Committee guidelines and the code of conduct to prevent sexual exploitation that we have all adhered to amongst ourselves, including CARE and IRC, to sort of avoid the kinds of things that you spoke of in DRC.
So there is a proactive engagement to try and make sure these issues are addressed by all of the NGO community in the U.N. systemically before it becomes too broad a problem.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. I have actually read the U.N. code of conduct, especially as it relates to the blue helmets. But the problem is the host countries have the responsibility for prosecuting traffickers and very often they are augmented out of places where exploitation is already occurring.
What we have tried to do in the United States, and I think it may offer some example to other nations, is not only to hold them accountable from a criminal point of view, but especially for those contractors of the Department of State, or DoD, that their contract now, as per the recent lawthe Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003that contract can be pulled. Nothing focuses the mind like a CEO and CFO saying, ''We are going to lose that very large contact unless we are not complicit in trafficking.'' So every which way we can come at it, we do.
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But I again commend the NGO community. My chief concern is regarding the military deployments in Congo and elsewhere. We saw it in Kosovo. We have seen it in a number of other areas. But I appreciate your point. We just have to get better enforcement, I think. But I thank you for that.
I would like to yield to Mr. Faleomavaega.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Chairman, our colleague, Ms. McCollum, has been sitting so patiently for all of this afternoon, and I would like to delay my questions and give her the opportunity to question the members of the panel. Thank you.
Ms. MCCOLLUM. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman; and to my colleague, what an unexpected surprise. Thank you very much.
I want to refer to Mr. Bell's testimony where he talks about the world's moral responsibility. He cites some places in which the world has let the people down that we promised to help. He talks about, in the Bam earthquake, $1.1 billion were pledged to the United Nations, but it only received $17.7 million.
What happened after Hurricane Mitch through Central America in the Western Hemisphere, where the European Union has given none of its $2 billion pledge? Almost 7 years after the hurricane, two-thirds of the pledged recovery money still has not been delivered.
I think Mr. Bell and others have made a good point today about keeping promises, keeping commitments. That is the only way that you keep hope alive today as people are moving forward.
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The comments about partnership and strong communities calls to mind what President Bush had spoken to earlier after 9/11 about expanding our soft power, expanding the Peace Corps; and this Congress still has an opportunity to fulfill that promise and keep that commitment.
But I want to take these remarks and move to a question. I think, Mr. Chair, the remarks that I have made, the remarks that we have heard from people about keeping promises, pledges and commitments are important. You know, the United Nations is only as strong as the donor countries that keep their promises and pledges to the U.N. and to those countries who are recipients working toward peaceful solutions in order in which to receive those donations.
Women's health care was brought up several times. I would like to first reflect on an opportunity I had at CARE to see in Ayacucho a maternal child health facility which involved a community hospital, doctor, men, everyone, in order to guarantee that women in high-risk pregnancies had an opportunity to deliver as safely as possible.
But another program that CARE was involved in was with birth control for unmarried couples. I met with many married couples who were very appreciative of the way that CARE went in and worked with the village, worked with the community and respected theirat times, sometimes traditions and cultures which are a lot more, should I say, restrictive and sensitive, than ours are here in the United States. So these were loving, committed relationships in which people were looking for help in controlling their family, a planned family.
You talked about the lack of obstetrics. Has there been any assessment for families, with these clinics being gone, about what to do to help families with their family planning? Is that an issue in which we should be looking to help?
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Dr. BRENNAN. The UNFPA has conducted an assessment of reproductive health needs; and, right now, there is a plan to implement what is called the MISP, the Minimum Initial Service Package, of reproductive health services following a disaster. The objectives of the MISP are essentially to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality, and we do that by distributing clean delivery kits to visibly pregnant women and to midwives and also to deliver midwifery kits to trained midwives and then to also set up systems of emergency obstetric care. That I think is going to be an important priority. The UNFPA has these reproductive health kits with the clean delivery kits, the midwife equipment and so on.
So, frankly, I think there has been a little bit of tardiness in initiating that process right now; and it is going to be very, very important that the agencies working in health become aware that the implementation of that MISP is actually one of the few standards right now that was referred to earlier.
The other objectives of the MISP are to prevent and respond to episodes of gender-based violence, which we mentioned earlier. I think we need to see that in a broader protection context as well and also to prevent the transmission of sexually-transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, probably less a pressing issue right now in a place like Aceh than it would be during disaster responses in Africa, but still something that we need to be mindful of. So, from our perspective, in terms of women's needs and women's health needs, I think there are some very basic things as well that need to be done.
I did a focus group discussion with women in a couple of places. The things that they were asking for were just simple hygiene things: Underwear, sanitary napkins and so on. They are just very basic things that need to be done.
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But I think the issue of, you know, obstetric services, ensuring that we train midwives, that we get these clean delivery kits out there, that there are mechanisms to refer women who have high-risk pregnancies or obstetric complications, I think that is going to be a priority in the initial to intermediate term right now.
Mr. BELL. On the issue of keeping promises, it is not only Americans, of course, but others around the world. There is no question that Americans have a very big heart, but sometimes we have a short memory. I am heartened that both President Bush and the leadership within Congress have indicated a commitment to make whole our humanitarian assistance.
When we commit $350 million to the post tsunami disaster, that money has to be taken from somewhere. And I am concerned that it could be taken from Darfur or from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the needs are extraordinarily great in human terms as well. I am delighted that there is a commitment not to let that happen.
Similarly, we have a shortfall in emergency food as well; and that also means that people to whom food had been promised will not receive it unless there is a replenishment, because there have been more than the foreseen emergencies in the world.
We have a responsibility to make good on our commitments, and the rest of the world looks to our leadership in doing so.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you.
Page 201 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Chair recognizes Don Payne, the gentleman from New Jersey.
Mr. PAYNE. Thank you very much.
I yield to the gentleman. If you gave your time up, I will wait until you have your questions.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Well, I thank my colleague from New Jersey and certainly welcome him for participating in this hearing this afternoon. I certainly want to thank all of the members of the panel for their excellent presentations.
Dr. Brennan, you had mentioned that your organization has spent about 5 years now in Aceh in dealing with the health care needs of the people. You may have heard my earlier statements about the problems that we are faced with, not only in Aceh, but also in West Papua New Guinea. The same problems of those under the administration or control of the Indonesian Government has not been very positive, in my own personal perspective.
But I want to ask you again, in your best judgment, do you think that the military is doing peaceful activities in dealing with Aceh as far as providing energy needs to these people? I am talking about the Indonesian military.
Dr. BRENNAN. Well, just as a point of clarification, we haven't been actually providing health services as such, not medical services in Aceh over the last 5 years. We have been providing water and sanitation and livelihood projects and some agricultural activities.
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But as far as the relationships with the Indonesian military and what we have been able to observe, I would say that our relationships with the military and with the Indonesian Government have been generally positive at this stage. And in our discussions with the military and with the government officialsand I hastenI have met many on the specific issue of the relocation camps. I mean, the rhetoric was, of course, that they were humanitarian intentions; and I think that we just have to be very, very mindful of the context of Aceh and what the more political motivations may be.
Right now, there has been no restriction by the military or by the government on access by any of the humanitarian agencies to populations in need, which has been encouraging. We have heard that there may be restrictions in the future, but none of that has surfaced at this stage. So I think people have been cautiously optimistic and cautiously positive at this stage. It is something that we are continuing to watch very, very closely. So generally positive at the start, but it is something that we need to continue to monitor.
Speaking of the Acehanese people themselves, I think that they havethat their own opinion toward the military has tended to become more positive in more recent times. They have told me on a number of occasions that is something that actually predated the tsunami, that there have been some incremental improvements in the relationship with the military even over the last couple of years; and, again, their sense has been generally positive since the tsunami.
Having said that, we have heard anecdotal reports of some military personnel taking control of the aid and not distributing it in certain points, several anecdotal reports. So something that I think that we need to continue to monitor, but no major problems at this point in time, I would say.
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Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I just want to note that you made a very keen observation, and I cannot agree with you more, given the fact that the world has paid attention to this tragedy and the tsunami and the problems that we are faced with in Africa. And my good friend from New Jersey probably knows more than anybody on this Committee about what has happened, not only in the Congo, but what we failed to do in Uganda. We just let things happen without even paying attention to this situation. So I do agree with you in that observation.
Ms. Khan, you mentioned that UNICEF has been one of the active organizations in addressing this tragedy in South Asia. For the record, just for purposes of my own edification, I just wanted to know, what is the dollar value of the services and things that UNICEF has already distributed to the catastrophe in South Asia?
Ms. KHAN. We have already raisedin terms of overall funds raised by the organization, as part of our immediate flash appeal, we have raised $245 million. So the bulk of that will be disbursed in the next little while. So the dollar value isthe response, public response, has been great. The dollar value in terms of immediate relief is well into, you know, several million.
And what we are looking at for us is not just the immediate reconstruction, but, as I mentioned, since UNICEF is on the ground, before, after and during the crisis, much of this will also be used to help the rehabilitation and recovery process.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. So UNICEF has already expended some $200 million?
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Ms. KHAN. No, we have raised $200 million. We haven't fully expended 20. The details on full expenditure, I would have to come back to you on, because it would be divided country by country.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. What is UNICEF's primary budget funding resource? Is it the United Nations? Do you have private donors? I am claiming ignorance here. I really appreciate it.
Ms. KHAN. We do not get any assessed contributions from the United Nations. All of our contributions are voluntary. Those voluntary contributions come from both governments as well as the public. Public and private sector. Almost a third of our contributions are from the public. As I said, in the tsunami response, the public response for UNICEF both in the United States as well as other countries, particularly the Nordic countries, Germany as well, the response has been incredible. So what we are seeing for this tsunami crisis is quite a large proportion of our funds coming from public contributions.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Has the U.S. also been an active participant and donor to UNICEF?
Ms. KHAN. The U.S. Government has given money, as Mr. Natsios pointed out, for both psychosocial care, protection, nutrition, water and sanitation. And the U.S. National Committee, which is the national Committee that raises funds based in the U.S. on behalf of UNICEF, has already raised $53 million for UNICEF, of which $50 million has already been sent to the field.
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Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I think during the course of our hearing there seems to be a consensus that the issues you have raised, and you raise it in the most eloquent way, human trafficking, women's health care needs, child trafficking, problems with adoptions, this is something that Members of the Committee are very much aware of and hopefully that we will be able to address them accordingly.
But, again, I want to thank the members of the panel for their testimony, Mr. Chairman; and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you very much.
Mr. PAYNE. Well, thank you very much.
Thank you for your testimony. Unfortunately, I didn't hear all of it. But I would like to also commend UNICEF, and I am glad that my colleague, Mr. Faleomavaega, asked these questions. I think UNICEF has done an outstanding job under the leadership of Carol Bellamy for the last decade. I think it has moved in the right direction. I understand a new director will be appointed soon.
I also saw recently Chip Lyons from the U.S. Committee for UNICEF on the Today Show. He did a very outstanding job. I was formerly on the board of the U.S. Committee and followed very closely the good work that the U.S. Committee does. That $53 million, I think, is indicative of how they have moved forward. Even, Mr. Faleomavaega, they used to do this Trick or Treat for UNICEF around Halloween time. They don't go out too much.
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But, actually, we are doing a UNICEF drive for Darfur. UNICEF has set up several of the camps that I visited recently. So I just have to say that they are doing a good job.
I just, one, would like to really commend President Bush for appointing President Bush, Sr., and President Clinton to lead the fundraising here in the U.S.; and I think that there is legislation also to have tax incentives for people to give.
I would like to ask a question in regard to Somalia. We have heard very little about what has happened in Africa. As you know, the tsunami did hit parts of Kenya and Somali; and, to date, we have contributed $250,000 to Somalia for relief. I wonder whether your organizations have taken a better approach to Somalia? I think our country has, since the incident 10, 11 years ago, we have had practically no relations with Somalia. But I would wonder what your organizations are doing in Africa where we hear very little. Of course, the impact was much less, but it certainly was devastating where it hit. I would like to know what is happening there.
Ms. KHAN. In Somalia, again, UNICEF has had an ongoing program. What we did find was the region that was hit in Somalia was to the coastal north a bit. We did an assessment mission immediately after with our NGO partners, immediately after the floods and the waves, and then essentially there was immediate support provided in terms of water and sanitation, some food support provided by WFP and more food programs and then, in addition to that, some health care provisions. The number of communities that were affected is relatively small. And the other issue is that access in this area for us is quite difficult, it being a difficult-to-reach zone and not particularly secure.
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So we did buttress our existing programs in the areas of intervention already, and we are keeping tabs to see what can be done to make sure those communities don't have any more undue suffering.
Mr. BELL. There were some 300 people who were killed as a result of the tsunami in Somalia. CARE responded immediately with food assistance to affected families. We are working with other local organizations today in assisting approximately 11,000 families, which would be more than 50,000 people.
We are also now beginning to focus on rehabilitation activities to restore livelihoods. There, as in some of the other countries, we will be helping fishing families with rebuilding boats and acquiring nets and other equipment.
We also plan to focus on infrastructure, including rebuilding of houses and schools and clinics.
Dr. BRENNAN. The International Rescue Committee does not normally respond to natural disasters. We generally work with refugees and populations affected by conflict, and we only respond to natural disasters if we already have a preexisting presence in the country that has been impacted by that disaster, for example, the Goma volcano eruption several years ago and now, of course, the tsunami in Aceh.
So we have not responded in Somalia because we didn't have a preexisting presence there, nor have we responded to any of the other countries impacted by the tsunami. We have only responded in Aceh, where we already had preexisting programs.
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Mr. PAYNE. I just want tonow that you mention Aceh, to those groups, maybe UNICEF, you know, there were allegedly 1,592 teachers who died in Aceh, 505 schools have been destroyed, 140 elementary students and 20,000 junior high school students have been displaced in Sri Lanka. We go on and on.
Is UNICEF, since it is involved in education, focusing on the rebuilding of schools, the schools that are still there? People are living in refugee places, but I think that we have to take a look at what will happen to the school situation. Ms. Khan, have you looked at that?
Ms. KHAN. Yes. The focus of the coordination and support to education in Aceh, UNICEF is leading in that sector. We are working in close collaboration with others.
The back-to-school learning campaign began on the 25th of January. Schools in Aceh were scheduled to open today. We provided 580 school-in-a-box kits, and 540 recreation kits have been provided for more than 20,000 children,supplies for another 10,800 children in Aceh, Bharat.
We are supporting the reestablishment of primary education in 11 priority districts and will be providing supplies to Save the Children to reestablish primary education in three others. We currently have assessment teams out there, some of them returning as well. Now, yesterday, they returned. But we will be looking at school rehabilitation and reconstruction as well.
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We are already looking at working with local and existing contractors to try and help reestablish those, in close cooperation with the Achanese Government and the national authorities. Because, as pointed out, much of this has to be planned in terms of people that are going back to the communities to know where they will settle.
Dr. Brennan spoke to the extent of the damage. We also have to see that the whole coastline has been devastated. So where communities can actually resettle back in Aceh is a little different from where they were before. So we will have to look at that very closely with local authorities and local communities in terms of where we build up infrastructure relative to where populations will be resettled.
Mr. PAYNE. Well, thank you very much. I really appreciate the comment.
One thing I wanted to clarify: I read something recently that the Indonesian Government was asking the United States military to leave. I think that that was a misstatement that has been clarified. I heard some people ask, ''Why do they want us out? We are trying to help people.'' But I just want to make it clear for the record that that was a misinterpretation, and there has not been a request for the U.S. military to leave immediately or in 2 months or whatever.
The other thing is, I did compliment the President finally for appointing the Presidents to raise funds and now having moved in the right direction. I do think that we did have a week or so of bad press, more than bad press, but mostly bad behavior, when, evidently, the devastation of the tsunami must have passed by our key administrators. Because initially $10 million was sent, and then they said we would do $15 million and then $35 million, and then we finally said $350 million after a week or so.
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I think that it was unfortunate that the Administration did not focus clearly, rather than even make any kind of a dollar assessment. To make one that was then multiplied 10-fold really indicates that there was not the attention given originally, I mean immediately on the 26th when I was in Ukraine at the election, as a matter of fact. And when this came over, it was several days before we responded.
But, like I said, I complimented the Administration initially for what it has done after the fact. But I think when these opportunities happen, when these situations happen, we should be prepared to have the right response. We finally got there. But I think it would have been better had it happened initially.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Payne, for your work and for your comments.
I would like to thank our very distinguished panelists and thank you for being here but, more importantly, for the tremendous work you do.
You know what Mr. Payne was talking about, the work of our two former Presidents. You know, the American peopleand this is still countinghave already donated $580 million, private donations. Three hundred and fifty million dollars we already know about, with the Bush donation on behalf of the U.S. Government; and another very often-neglected number is the $150 million and counting that the military has expended.
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I remember years ago, when we were being criticized on some other operation, the General Accounting Office looked at six different peacekeeping but especially humanitarian efforts including Somalia and Haiti. When you added it all up, there was an excess of $6 billion expended by the U.S. taxpayers, for which we got no accounting or credit.
No one is looking for credit, but when people do mock and criticize, everything ought to be on the table as to what the U.S. has donated.
I would be remiss if I didn't note the presence of Marty Rendon, a long-time friend who is now Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Marty was there with Tony Hall, a great Member of this institution from Ohio and Chairman of the Hunger Committee, and Marty was his right-hand man. Now Tony is our Ambassador to the FAO in Rome.
Marty and I have undertaken trips over the years when he was with Tony, one of which was to El Salvador, Nicaragua, on behalf of some humanitarian efforts. He has been one of the greatest forces and advocates for hunger and for humanitarian work. Marty, it is great to have you here. Thank you for being here with us today.
I would also just say, any Members who have written questions, without objection, the record will stay open; and I hope our distinguished witnesses on the previous panel and this one as well will be willing to provide some written answers to those question.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I just want to note also in the observation Mr. Payne had made earlier about our lack of response, the fact of the matter is we did respond. Some of the testimony that was obtained this afternoon is the fact that, in a matter of minutes and hours, eight C130s were already on the way to the disaster area, as it was done by my good friend, Admiral Fargo, who is the Pacific Commander of the whole Pacific region.
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I think one of the reasons whyit wasn't that we did not intend to give the contribution. It was because we wanted to assess the situation, what was needed. And I think that was the reason why there was somea slight delay on the part of the President in announcing whether we needed $10 million, $15 million, or $350 million.
The problem here was too, tooit was kind of like a bidding war going on with the Japanese. They are donating $500 million, and all of those other countries are donating hundreds of millions. The fact of the matter is, very little from what was promised.
As Mr. Bell alluded to earlier, keep your promises. And I think one thing that I am very happy about is that our country is making commitments, and we are keeping the promises.
I want to say, Mr. Chairman, I think this hearing has been very fulfilling. I think we have solicited some excellent information not only from the leaders of the Administration but also our colleagues here; and I sincerely hope that, on a bilateral, bipartisan basis, that we will develop the kind of legislation that will not in any way be unrelated to other things. The tendency is, as you well know, Mr. Chairman, you introduce one bill, the next thing you know it becomes a kitchen cabinet, adding unrelated appropriations matters. This is a danger that I see. But I sincerely hope that we will focus on this one specific area, provide the necessary funding and let's move on. I sincerely hope that is what we will do here in Congress.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman; and thank you again, members of the panel.
Page 213 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you, Mr. Faleomavaega.
This hearing is adjourned, and thank you very much.
[Whereupon, at 4:15 p.m., the Committee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE DAN BURTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF INDIANA
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this most important hearing today, as we examine United States relief efforts after the recent tsunami that struck South and Southeast Asia.
As you already know, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake erupted on December 26, 2004, off the west coast of North Sumatra, Indonesia, which triggered massive tsunamis that hit 12 countries throughout South and Southeast Asia, as well as several East African nations. These devastating tsunamis claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and have displaced many more thousands from their homes and communities.
In fact, in Indonesia alone, over 114,000 are confirmed dead, 12,070 missing, and over 560,000 displaced. In Sri Lanka there are reports of 30,957 dead, 5,644 missing, and 396,000 displaced. The figuresalthough smallerare nonetheless devastating for India, Maldives, Thailand, Malaysia, Somalia, and Seychelles. All together, it is feared that the death toll is over a staggering 220,000.
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There have been several seminal events during the Bush Presidency. And the attacks on September 11, 2001 shaped our foreign policy in profound ways. Similarly, the natural disaster last month in the Indian Ocean and the proceeding humanitarian intervention in South and Southeast Asia, has demonstrated the compassion and commitment America has to support and assist the impacted communities in their recovery. President Bush and this Congress demonstrated rapid material, logistic, and financial assistance, as well as immediate mobilization of humanitarian relief.
In order to assist in this massive relief effort, the world has come together and President Bush has committed $350 Million to the relief and recovery effort.
The countries of the region are especially grateful for the pivotal role the United States, particularly our men and women in the Armed Forces, our aid workers, and the generosity of nongovernmental organizations and private citizens have all played in the relief and rebuilding efforts.
While so many communities were overwhelmed with this tragedy, the coordinated international response has brought hope and signaled more than just our sympathy and charityit evidenced our solidarity with them and our readiness to help.
The scale of devastation in North Sumatra Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Southern Thailand and the massive loss of life throughout the rest of the region have put this Earthquake and Tsunami in the annals of history of global natural disasters.
Page 215 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, the field reports we receive speak volumes about the great burden this natural disaster has placed on the people of all the affected nations. During this difficult time, the United States will continue to stand in support of those nations, and we must stay the course to assist throughout the rebuilding process.
Furthermore, I was recently encouraged after hearing the results of the first nationwide poll since the tsunami, conducted January 1012, 2005, by Ipsos-Public Affairs for the organization Terror Free Tomorrow. The pollwhich surveyed 1,000 American adultsdemonstrated that an overwhelming majority of Americans maintain a strong commitment to helping the world's largest Muslim nationIndonesiain their time of need.
I applaud the prompt and timely mobilization of relief efforts from around the world. In Indonesia, the United States Government has provided more than $36.6 million in emergency food assistance, relief supplies, shelter, water and sanitation, health, livelihoods recovery, psychological and social support, logistics and coordination, and rehabilitation activities for affected communities in Indonesia.
In Sri Lanka, the United States Government has provided approximately $57.4 million in emergency food assistance, relief supplies, shelter, water and sanitation, health, livelihoods recovery, psychological and social support, protection and anti-trafficking, logistics and coordination, and cleanup and rehabilitation activities for affected communities in Sri Lanka.
In India, the United States Agency for International Development has provided $3.8 million for shelter, water and sanitation, cleanup and rehabilitation, education, and cash for work activities for tsunami-affected residents.
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Mr. Chairman let me also add that I am especially pleased with our efforts in conjunction with the governments of the affected countries and the dozens of human rights organizations operating in those areas to combat the increased threat of human trafficking. Officials estimate that over 35,000 children have been either orphaned or separated from their parents as a result of the Tsunami, leaving them extremely vulnerable to smugglers who prey upon these innocent victims for their own financial gain. It is absolutely critical that we do everything we can to keep a full accounting of these young children and place them with caring, responsible surrogates until their families can be located or another suitable arrangement can be reached. To that end, I applaud President Susilo of Indonesia and his Minister of Social Affairs who have acted quickly and aggressively to safeguard their youth.
Mr. Chairman, I was pleased to hear that as of January 25, 2005, more than 11,400 U.S. military personnel are involved in providing relief support throughout the affected region. Of the 2,751 military personnel currently on the ground, 1,832 are in Thailand, 696 in Sri Lanka, 155 in Indonesia, 56 in Malaysia, and 12 in Maldives. With 15 ships and 67 aircraft, the U.S. military has delivered a total of 6,632,547 lbs of relief supplies to the governments of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other affected nations, including 27,518 gallons of water; 102,214 lbs of food; and 26,744 lbs of relief supplies in the last 24 hours.
Moreover, there are numerous other ways in which the international community can assist with this monumental relief effort. First, the creation of an Indian Ocean Tsunami Detection and Warning System will serve to provide a buffer and life-saving time to communicate seismic activity to vulnerable coastal areas. Second, a debt moratorium is another concrete step to help ease some of the financial burden. In fact, earlier this month the Group of Seven major industrial nations agreed to allow Tsunami-stricken countries to defer debt payments. And the United States will continue to assist in every conceivable way.
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Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. I look forward to hearing the testimony of all of our witnesses today. By the end of the day we will have a better understanding of the accomplishments in the enormous task of assisting with the rebuilding process throughout the devastated region. I extend my most sincere condolences to all the people of the region. My thoughts and prayers are with all of those families who are mourning the loss of loved ones.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE KATHERINE HARRIS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wish to begin by commending you and Ranking Member Lantos for the leadership, wisdom, and compassion that you have displayed in responding to this tragedy. Your bi-partisan efforts will enable this Committeeand this Nationto provide the critical assistance that the victims of this tragedy desperately need.
The people of South Asia confront a herculean task as they seek to rebuild their homes and their lives. Not only do they mourn the loss of more than 200,000 of their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and parents, many lack the basic necessities they need to survive themselves. Moreover, the infrastructure upon which they depend for the delivery of these necessitiessuch roads, bridges, and social serviceshas been utterly destroyed.
Answering their cries for help, the international community has mounted the largest disaster relief effort in history. I applaud President Bush for swiftly providing humanitarian aidand for building a broad coalition of nations for this purpose. I also want to thank former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, as well as Florida Governor Jeb Bush for their contributions to this endeavor.
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As this Committee engages in the relief effort, I wish to direct its attention to a matter of grave concern. Reports have arisen of attempts to exploit the most vulnerable victims of this disaster.
The fact that human trafficking and child prostitution are rampant problems is Southeast Asia is well documented. Thailand in particular has become a popular target for pedophiles, sex tourists, and organized sex traffickers. The tsumani's devastation has only encouraged the purveyors of this evil, as they seek to prey upon orphaned children.
While I applaud the State Department's decision to bar U.S. citizens from adopting orphaned children until further investigation of these reports can be performed, we canand we mustdo more. We cannot permit this evil to compound the misery that these children have already endured.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman
RESPONSES FROM THE HONORABLE ANDREW S. NATSIOS, ADMINISTRATOR, U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT TO QUESTIONS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD BY THE HONORABLE HENRY J. HYDE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, AND CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Page 219 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In previous disasters, pledges made by governments have not always resulted in actual contributions, particularly beyond the emergency stage toward recovery and reconstruction. How will the Administration ensure that it will meet its own pledge of $950 million and ensure that designated U.S. resources for longer-term recovery and reconstruction will remain focused on tsunami-affected areas in the coming months and years?
The President has stated that the US Government is committed today and will be tomorrow, in helping those affected by this terrible disaster. The Administration is currently finalizing an Action Plan which will guide tsunami reconstruction activities once the $950 million supplemental request is approved. USAID will obligate and report results for supplemental funding it manages through the use of one strategic objective established solely for tsunami reconstruction activities. Our USAID Missions in tsunami-affected countries, in coordination with USAID's Office of the Inspector General, will ensure all appropriated funds are spent for the designated purposes of aiding tsunami-affected areas.
Under Secretary Larson indicated that there would be an interagency working group for recovery and reconstruction. Will this group be responsible for overseeing such longer-term assistance?
Page 220 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The State Department, in close cooperation with USAID, leads the Tsunami Inter Agency Working Group (IAWG), which was established on January 7 and meets weekly. It is the coordination mechanism for all federal agencies contributing to the U.S. government(USG) relief response. Once the supplemental appropriation is approved, the IAWG will facilitate final agreement within the USG and with host governments on specific activities. Oversight of reconstruction efforts will be exercised by USAID personnel in the field, under the direction of our U.S. Ambassadors to affected countries.
With such large amounts of private donations coming in to relief providers and non-governmental organizations (NGO) to support their own assistance activities, how will the Administration ensure that U.S. bilateral resources will not duplicate NGO efforts and instead be applied to sectors where we have a comparative advantage, such as infrastructure?
USAID Missions in the countries affected by the tsunami and earthquake have worked closely with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and International Organizations (IOs) throughout the relief phase of the disaster. The close and collaborative working relationships established during the relief phase with NGOs and IOs have facilitated planning on reconstruction among all parties. Initial damage assessments led by the Asian Development Bank and World Bank, with USAID participation, are being shared with NGOs and used by them to plan their investments. Recognizing that large scale infrastructure and technical assistance to central government ministries, national emergency operations centers, and other planning and coordinating entities is not an area of comparative NGO expertise, the President's supplemental request focuses on these activities. Private donations have and will continue to represent a significant component of the overall assistance to tsunami-affected populations. USAID staff in the affected countries and at headquarters will continue to meet regularly with NGOs and other donors to share, compare and adapt reconstruction plans. In Indonesia, USAID is engaged in weekly discussions with the Government of Indonesia, and regular discussions with the World Bank and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on the ''blueprint for reconstruction''.
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Are host governments or the UN acting as the coordinating body within each country? How effective have national coordination systems been? What are the capacities of the affected countries to provide relief and reconstruction? What has been the strategy in the U.S. and the international response to use and support local capacities?
IndonesiaIn Jakarta, humanitarian coordination meetings are chaired by the Office of the Vice President of Indonesia and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In Aceh, overall humanitarian coordination has been led by the United Nations. In the field, sectoral coordination is chaired by both the UN and the relevant line ministry. The Government of Indonesia, with close support from the World Bank and UNDP, is leading the efforts for coordination on reconstruction issues and has set up 10 working groups at the Jakarta and Aceh level for input.
Local NGO capacity was greatly affected by the tsunami and many local organizations operating in Aceh were affected either through loss of their staff or facilities. Many international agencies have sought to work with existing local capacity through partnerships with local organizations, community groups, local NGOs, etc. This has facilitated a grass roots approach particularly with livelihood and cash for work projects and in some case has allowed better access to affected community groups. In seeking to reach the broadest range of affected populations, USAID utilized a number of different approaches in our initial disaster response. One approach utilized by the USAID/DART to quickly and effectively provide assistance to the tsunami-affected population was to tap into local networks in Aceh. USAID/OFDA provided USD 5 million through an existing USAID contract mechanism to jointly fund over 40 small grants with NGOs and civil society organizations. These projects included 23 cash for work programs and 17 other livelihood projects. As part of a local capacity building effort, all grants involved local partners for actual implementation, although some grants were channeled through international NGOs who partnered with local civil society organizations. These local NGO programs have provided the means for many local players to continue their involvement and participation from emergency to the reconstruction and development activities. These local NGO programs will provide the means for many individuals and organizations to continue their involvement and participation in the reconstruction and development activities, providing continuity that will undoubtedly make those activities more successful. It has given the tsunami-survivors a real chance to play an important role in the rehabilitation of their region from the beginning to the end, eliminating the possibility of the local population being excluded or sidelined.
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Sri LankaThe Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) is the lead coordinating body in Sri Lanka. Due to the ongoing domestic conflict and related security concerns, and the large number of interested actors, the Government of Sri Lanka is facing enormous challenges in both planning and coordinating the relief and reconstruction efforts. Relief agencies have expressed concerns about the leadership and coordination for the relief effort. The GOSL has established a coordinating body (the Center for National OperationsCNO) and two task forces to coordinate and oversee relief and reconstruction. U.S. government assistance is focused on programs to provide livelihoods opportunities and strengthen local capacities that engage communities and individuals in priority setting and project execution.
IndiaThe Government of India (GOI) has the lead in coordination, with UNDP's assistance. Coordination has been very strong at the national, state, and district levels. India provided assistance promptly during the initial emergency phase and has good capacity to successfully conduct reconstruction activities. USG assistance has been focused on supporting GOI efforts by filling gaps and strengthening local capacity through support to international and local NGOs. USG relief activities targeted underserved or isolated communities.
Have material aid or cash contributions been most helpful to relief efforts, and what are the strengths and weaknesses of each? The President and others have publicly called for cash donations; how does the ratio of cash and material aid compare to other disaster situations, and what have we learned?
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Without question, cash contributions have been the most helpful to the tsunami relief efforts. With few exceptions, the most effective way the American public can assist relief efforts is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations that are conducting relief operations. It is a common misperception among the public that all types of assistance are needed immediately following a disaster. This often leads to spontaneous collections of unsolicited commodities and offers of volunteer services. Cash donations allow disaster relief professionals to procure the exact commodities needed (often locally in the affected county); reduce the burden on resources that tend to be scarce in disaster settings (such as transportation routes, staff time, warehouse space, etc); can be transferred very quickly without transportation costs (which often outweigh the value of the donated commodities); support the economy of the disaster-stricken region; and ensure culturally, dietary, and environmentally appropriate assistance.
In rare circumstances, an in-kind donation may be beneficial. This tends to be only in situations where the donating party has a relationship with an entity on the ground in the disaster affected location that identifies the need, requests the needed items, and ensures proper distribution.
USAID is dedicated to spreading the message that ''Cash is best''. USAID employs a donations coordinator and has an agreement with the Center for International Disaster Information to conduct public outreach on appropriate giving.
An example of the adverse effects of material donations from the public can be seen in Sri Lanka's recent announcement that they have received an abundance of un-usable or un-necessary commodity contributions (such as Winter jackets), which they will start taxing in order to discourage such contributions. See http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/COL285796.htm for more information.
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What we have learned is that when the US government and NGO community promote the ''cash is best'' message, we can positively influence the public's giving habits. We have also learned that we should provide more information to the public on the kinds of questions to ask when deciding on which NGO to support. USAID, with its donations contractor, will work on additional educational material to address this.
We understand that there was sufficient warning of the December 26th earthquake at our facilities in Diego Garcia that evasive action was taken to prevent any significant damage or loss of life. Why was this warning not shared urgently with others in the region to conduct similar preventative measures?
Although the earthquake that generated the tsunami was detected by seismologists in the U.S. and elsewhere, there was no way to be certain that a tsunami was imminent. There was no tsunami early warning system in place in the region.
In order for at-risk communities to receive warning of an impending tsunami with ample time to evacuate, an integrated tsunami warning system must be in place with the following components:
1) Monitoring to detect tsunamis, including: seismographs to record and locate earthquakes; tide stations throughout the shore to detect changes in the sea level; and a deep-ocean assessment and reporting system (ocean-bottom pressure sensor and surface buoys) that would detect changes in the water level to predict the development and impact of distant tsunamis;
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(2) Analyzing data and forecasting potential tsunami location, run-up area and time of arrival;
(3) Providing adequate warning for evacuation procedures to be carried out; and
(4) Preparing communities to take necessary actions.
In an integrated system, each component is critical and the failure of one will lead to a failure of the entire system.
In the case of the December 26, Indian Ocean Tsunami, detection facilities in the United States were aware of the earthquake, but the other components of the system were not in place. They did not have the capability to analyze and forecast the location and run-up area of the resulting tsunami; they did not have an established communications procedure to notify government staff in the affected countries; and the affected countries did not have systems in place to effectively notify their populations.
RESPONSES FROM THE HONORABLE ANDREW S. NATSIOS, ADMINISTRATOR, U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT TO QUESTIONS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD BY THE HONORABLE EARL BLUMENAUER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OREGON
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The records of many donor countries' in following through on commitments of aid in the aftermath of other disasters are not encouraging and the need for American involvement is on a longer-term scale than we're often used to. For how long should the US government to be involved in reconstruction activities in the region for our assistance to make the most difference?
The President has stated that the U.S. Government is committed today and will be tomorrow, in helping those affected by this terrible disaster. The United States was working to assist these nations before the Tsunami struck, and will remain committed to helping countries recover and rebuild. It is critical that the U.S. Government, in coordination with the rest of the donor community, remain to complete the reconstruction work and bring a sense of normalcy back to the people of that region. Fortunately, USAID already has bilateral programs in three of the worst affected countries (Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India) and a regional office in Thailand. While the time frame for completely restoring lost infrastructure may be 510 years, we have set forth an ambitious timeframe for our reconstruction efforts of two to three years, depending on the magnitude of the project. These reconstruction efforts will be followed by and complemented through our regular ongoing bilateral assistance programs in the region.
Two important elements of post-disaster reconstruction assistance include (1) stronger construction in a less vulnerable location to make the infrastructure less susceptible to future disasters and (2) restoration of the natural environment that buffers the impact of disasters. To what extent have these elements been incorporated into plans for reconstruction funding? Have concerns, or will concerns, about making communities less vulnerable through these disaster mitigation principles been raised with the World Bank and other donors?
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As USAID proceeds with its reconstruction activities, we will help countries not only to rebuild, but to build back better, incorporating improved building practices, zoning, and building codes to ensure that new infrastructure is more resilient and less susceptible to future disasters.
The value of intact coral reefs and mangrove forests as bulwarks against the impact of the tsunami was evident in the aftermath of this disaster. USAID intends to work with governments, local communities, and our development partners to support targeted restoration of these natural environments that provide the foundation for sustainable economic growth, food security, and protection against future natural disasters.
USAID is also working with the World Bank and other donors to: (1) ensure that restoration efforts are environmentally sound and follow improved building codes and zoning practices; (2) help restore natural systems for sustainable economic recovery and coastal protection; and (3) develop and improve the systems of communication, warning, and public education that serve to warn threatened populations, and to ensure that such systems are suitable for many kinds of hazards and disasters.
Considering the important role that natural features such as coral reefs and mangrove stands played in protecting infrastructure and lives during the Tsunami, why is the environment not mentioned in USAID's ''Principles of Development and Reconstruction Assistance?'' Do you have plans to add an environmental principle or a sustainability principle that addresses environmental protection?
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USAID recognizes the importance of addressing environmental concerns to support reconstruction and sustainable economic development. Concerns for the environment are therefore, central to our programming and strategies. Although USAID's ''Principles of Development and Reconstruction Assistance'' do not explicitly mention environmental protection, ''USAID's Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2004-2009'' highlights the importance of sound management of the environment and is an essential component for sustainable development.
What are the mechanisms by which different key U.S. government players in the relief effort, such as USAID and the military, are and have been coordinating? Has there been a lead agency? Is there a need for new coordinating mechanisms?
USAID/OFDA maintains a Military Liaison Unit (MLU) to coordinate disaster relief and humanitarian assistance activities with the Department of Defense. The MLU positions staff at Combatant Command headquarters, either full-time, in the case of SOUTHCOM, or on an ad hoc/as needed basis in other commands. This coordination ranges from the strategic to the tactical level.
During the Asian Tsunami response, USAID deployed staff to serve as military liaison officers at all levels of the DoD Combined Support Force536, to ensure that appropriate and effective plans were developed and executed and civilian efforts were coordinated with military ones. USAID also coordinated directly with the Department of Defense at the command and policy levels in Washington D.C., Hawaii and Thailand. In addition, DoD provided several liaison officers to USAID's Operations Center to assist the Response Management Team in coordinating the U.S. Government's response to the affected countries.
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USAID, as the President's designated lead agency for disaster response, took the lead in the Tsunami disaster response. This was greatly assisted by directives from the Department of Defense advising subordinate units to fully support USAID's response effort. This mechanism was also supported by video-teleconferencing hosted by the National Security Council that allowed decision makers to address coordination issues directly. As with all operations, refinements to existing coordination mechanisms will be made to further increase their effectiveness, but the creation of a new coordinating mechanism is not required.
LETTER REQUESTING INFORMATION FROM THE HONORABLE DONALD H. RUMSFELD, SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, BY THE HONORABLE HENRY J. HYDE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, AND CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Hon. HENRY J. HYDE, Chairman,
|The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary,|
|U.S. Department of Defense,|
|Washington, DC, March 23, 2005.|
Committee on International Relations,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
DEAR MR. SECRETARY: Enclosed is a question for the official record of a Full Committee Hearing held January 26, 2005 entitled ''The Tsunami Crisis in Southeast Asia.''
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I request that you provide a written answer to the following question. Your testimony and your response to this question will be very important to the Committee in our crafting of legislation. Please provide the question with your response, electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org. The question, and your answer, will be made part of the record of the proceedings of the Committee.
Question submitted by Representative Ted Poe:
At the hearing, General Allen briefed a timeline of the U.S. military response that demonstrated the urgency of U.S. action. Please provide a written copy of the timeline of U.S. military action.
I look forward to receiving your responses to this question. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.
[Note: A response to the previous letter was not received prior to printing.]