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06 January 2005

Pacific Command Report, January 6: Humanitarian Relief Update

Multinational team effort seeking to minimize suffering in Asia

“This is a terrific team effort, Navy Captain Rodger Welch said of the combined efforts of some four-dozen nations that are working to alleviate suffering and prevent further loss of life in South and Southeast Asia.

Welch told reporters monitoring his daily telephone conference call from the U.S. Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii on January 6 that “every country is involved in contributing in a positive way.

The U.S. military is providing logistical support and responding to requests for assistance from Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka, he said.  Other countries such as Japan, New Zealand, France, Germany, China, Australia, Malaysia, India, South Korea, Pakistan, Singapore and the United Kingdom have contributed medical teams, field hospitals, engineers, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters among other critical assets.  Welch said multinational cooperation continues to grow, and now the United Nations has joined to coordinate the massive undertaking.

Statistics change by the minute, but Welch reported that an estimated 12,000 U.S. military personnel are sailing some 21 Navy ships and flying 91 aircraft in response to requests for assistance from various host nations.  In the past 24 hours, he said, 29,000 pounds of relief supplies have been delivered to the region.  For the first time, he said, C-5 and C-17 heavy lift aircraft are moving into the theater of operations.

Welch also said the first U.S. ship arrived from Northeast Asia January 5, another on January 6, and more will be steaming into the area in coming days.

Asked about how the U.S Navy’s floating hospital ship, the USS Mercy, might be used, Welch said the plan is still under development, but it could house personnel working for nongovernmental organizations and government agencies while they are carrying out humanitarian relief assignments.

Phil Wilhelm of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) also participated in the briefing.  USAID is the lead U.S. federal agency in providing disaster relief, but it depends on its long-standing relationship with the U.S. military for support of its operations.

Wilhelm said what is flowing into Asia “is just the beginning because nations there will need long-term assistance.  Reconstruction has already begun in some areas, he said.

In addition to the humanitarian relief effort, he said, plans call for reducing the economic impact of the earthquake and tsunami by bolstering economic systems and reviving commercial structures.

Further information about U.S. military involvement is available on the Web at

http://www.pacom.mil/special/0412asia/factsheet2.html and

http://www.pacom.mil/special/0412asia/factsheet.html

Additional information about AID’s relief efforts in Asia may be viewed on the Web at http://www.usaid.gov/locations/asia_near_east/tsunami/

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



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