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Public Papers - 1991 - April

Statement on Aid to Iraqi Refugees

1991-04-05

The human tragedy unfolding in and around Iraq demands immediate action on a massive scale. At stake are not only the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children but the peace and security of the Gulf.

Since the beginning of the Gulf war on August 2, the United States has contributed more than million for refugees and displaced persons in the region. Many other countries have also contributed. It is clear, however, that the current tragedy requires a far greater effort. As a result, I have directed a major new effort be undertaken to assist Iraqi refugees.

Beginning this Sunday, U.S. Air Force transport planes will fly over northern Iraq and drop supplies of food, blankets, clothing, tents, and other relief-related items for refugees and other Iraqi civilians suffering as a result of the situation there.

I want to emphasize that this effort is prompted only by humanitarian concerns. We expect the Government of Iraq to permit this effort to be carried out without any interference.

I want to add that what we are planning to do is intended as a step-up in immediate aid, such as is also being provided by the British, the French, and other coalition partners. We will be consulting with the United Nations on how it can best provide for the many refugees in and around Iraq on a longterm basis as necessary. We will continue consulting with our coalition partners in this and in other efforts designed to alleviate the plight of the many innocent Iraqis whose lives have been endangered by the brutal and inhumane actions of the Iraqi government.

I also want to add that this urgent air drop is but one of several steps the United States is taking to deal with this terrible situation. I will shortly be signing an order that will authorize up to million from the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund. These funds will help meet the needs of the burgeoning refugee population in the region. Our military forces in southern Iraq will continue to assist refugees and displaced persons. We are also providing considerable economic and food assistance to the Government of Turkey, to help it sustain the many refugees who have taken refuge there. We are prepared as well to deploy a U.S. military medical unit to the border area in southern Turkey to meet emergency needs.

The United States is also concerned about the welfare of those Iraqi refugees now fleeing to Iran. We will be communicating, through our established channel, to the Government of Iran our willingness to encourage and contribute to international organizations carrying out relief efforts aiding these individuals.

In an effort to help innocent people, and especially the children of Iraq, we will be donating 9,000 to UNICEF for child immunizations in Iraq. We will also be providing a further 1,000 and 1,000 tons of food to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In all cases, funds and goods provided to international organizations will be distributed by the organizations themselves to civilian in Iraq.

Finally, I have asked Secretary Baker to travel to Turkey, en route to the Middle East, to meet with President Ozal and visit the border area to assess the refugee situation and report back to me.

Note: The statement referred to Secretary of State James A. Baker III and President Turgut Ozal of Turkey. Presidential Determinations 91 - 26 and 91 - 27 of April 6 concerning assistance to refugees in the Persian Gulf region were printed in the ``Federal Register'' of April 23.

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