September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document

Email Text:
The following concurrent resolutions and Senate resolutions were read, and
referred (or acted upon), as indicated:

   By Mr. WELLSTONE:

   S. Res. 172. A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding
the urgent need to provide emergency
humanitarian assistance and development assistance to civilians in
Afghanistan, including Afghan refugees in
surrounding countries; to the Committee on Foreign Relations.


SENATE RESOLUTION 172--EXPRESSING THE SENSE OF THE SENATE REGARDING THE
URGENT
NEED TO PROVIDE EMERGENCY HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE AND DEVELOPMENT
ASSISTANCE TO CIVILIANS IN AFGHANISTAN, INCLUDING AFGHAN REFUGEES IN
SURROUNDING COUNTRIES

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

   S. Res. 172

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Resolved,

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

    It is the sense of the Senate that--

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

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

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

   Mr. WELLSTONE. Mr. President, even before the world focused on it as a
sanctuary for Osama bin Laden and
other terrorists, Afghanistan was on the brink of a humanitarian
catastrophe, the site of the greatest crisis in hunger and
refugee displacement in the world. Now the worsening situation on the ground
is almost unimaginable. After 4 years of
relentless drought, the worst in three decades, and the total failure of the
Taliban government in administering the
country, 4 million people have abandoned their homes in search of food in
Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, and elsewhere,
while those left behind eat meals of locusts and animal fodder.

   Mr. President, 7.5 million people inside the country are threatened by
famine or severe hunger as cold weather
approaches, according to the United Nations.

   As President Bush made clear, we are waging a campaign against
terrorists, not ordinary Afghans, who are some of
the poorest and most beleaguered people on the planet and were our allies
during the cold war.

   Yet, the current military air strikes and the disintegration of security
is worsening the humanitarian situation on the
ground.

   Aid organizations are increasingly concerned about their ability to
deliver aid to Afghanistan while the United States
continues its bombing campaign. Several aid organizations have been
accidentally bombed by the United States in the
last week. In addition to these accidental bombings, law and order are
breaking down inside Afghanistan. Reports
indicate that thieves have broken into several aid organization offices,
beat up the Afghan staff and stolen vehicles,
spare parts, and other equipment.

   Warehouses of the International Red Cross in Kabul were bombed yesterday.
The ICRC says that the warehouses
were clearly marked white with a large red cross visible from the air. One
worker was wounded and is now in stable
condition. One warehouse suffered a direct hit, which destroyed tarpaulins,
plastic sheeting, and blankets, while
another containing food caught on fire and was partially destroyed. The
Pentagon claimed responsibility for the
bombing later in the day, adding that they ``regret any innocent
casualties,'' and that the ICRC warehouses were part
of a series of warehouses that the United States believed were used to store
military equipment. ``There are huge
needs for the civilian population, and definitely it will hamper our
operations,'' Robert Monin, head of the International
Red Cross' Afghanistan delegation, said on Islamabad, Pakistan.

   Another missile struck near a World Food Program warehouse in Afsotar,
wounding one laborer. The missile struck
as trucks were being loaded for an Oxfam convoy to the Hazarajat region,
where winter will begin closing off the
passes in the next two weeks. Loading was suspended and the warehouse
remains closed today.

   Last week, four U.N. workers for a demining operation were accidentally
killed when a bomb struck their office in
Kabul.

   In response to the dangers threatening humanitarian operations, the

                                [Page: S10843]  GPO's PDF

Oxfam America President said, ``It is now evident that we cannot, in
reasonable safety, get food to hungry Afghan
people. We've reached the point where it is simply unrealistic for us to do
our job in Afghanistan. We've run out of
food, the borders are closed, we can't reach our staff, and time's running
out.''

   The World Food Program was feeding 3.8 million people a day in
Afghanistan even before the bombing campaign
began. These included 900,000 internally displaced people at camps. Although
the United States military has dropped
thousands of ready to eat meals, everyone agrees that only truck convoys can
move sufficient food into Afghanistan
before winter. As of last Friday, there were only two convoys confirmed to
have gotten though. WFP announced that
two more convoys since the bombing campaign started were nearing Kabul.

   Complications and delays in delivering emergency food supplies to
Afghanistan could cause rising death rates from
starvation and illness as

   winter sets in. Many of the high mountain passes will be closed by
mid-November due to 20-30 foot snows.

   Aid agencies are falling behind in their efforts to deliver enough
emergency relief to Afghans to avoid a large loss of
life this winter. UNICEF estimates that, in addition to the total of 300,000
Afghan children who die of ``preventable
causes'' each year, 100,000 more children might die this winter from hunger
and disease.

   The main reasons for this shortfall in aid are related to security
concerns. Aid agencies have withdrawn their
international staff, and local staff have attempted to continue the aid
programs but have been subjected to intimidation,
theft, and harassment. As the United States continues to pound Taliban
targets, law and order in some cities is
reportedly also breaking down. Truck drivers are unwilling to deliver
supplies to some areas for fear of being bombed
by the United States, or being attacked by one faction or another. Taliban
supporters have obstructed aid deliveries
on some occasions.

   Despite these nightmares, shipment of food and nonfood emergency items
arrive in Afghanistan daily--but the total
shipped is only about one-half of what is needed. The situation is
particularly urgent as some of the poorest and most
needy areas will be cut off from overland routes by mid-November. An
estimated 600,000 people in the Central
Highlands are dependent upon international food aid, and little is on hand
for them now.

   The food shortfall in Afghanistan may result in an increased flow of
refugees to the borders. A flood of refugees to
the border would present a different but also challenging set of problems.
Clearly, as everyone has said, it is better for
them to remain at home than flee to neighboring countries out of hunger.

   There is no easy solution to this humanitarian crisis. It is complex and
requires the international community to take
urgent and imaginative action to boost the flow of food inside. The United
States should take the lead in helping to
devise aggressive and imaginative ways to expand the delivery of food. These
could include the creation of
humanitarian corridors, the use of existing commercial trading companies and
air deliveries to airports that have not yet
been bombed.

   The establishment of humanitarian ground and air corridors should be
considered for the secure transportation and
distribution of emergency aid. The administration should push to have some
roads or air routes in areas of limited
conflict be designated as protected humanitarian routes. Such possible
ground and air corridors include Northern
Alliance held territory along the border of Tajikstan, and Northern Alliance
airfields which have not been bombed.
These airfields could be used for a Berlin style airlift to get massive
amounts of aid into the country quickly.

   The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 1.5
million additional Afghans could seek to flee
the country in coming months due to the ongoing military conflict.

   All six countries neighboring Afghanistan have closed their borders to
refugees both on security grounds and citing
an inability to economically provide for more refugees. Thousands have been
trapped at borders with no food, shelter,
water, or medical care.

   I am introducing a resolution today which addresses this crisis. The text
of the resolution states the following:

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

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

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

   I urge my colleagues to support this measure.

   Mr. President, I spoke yesterday in this Chamber in relation to this
resolution I am submitting today. I will offer this
as an amendment on legislation to have a vote.

   I think we in America are probably as united as we can be as a people,
especially when it comes to our horror and
sadness, indignation and anger at the innocent slaughter of so many people,
so many Americans.

   In response to that, a resolution was passed authorizing the use of
force, targeted on those who committed this act,
hopefully drawing a distinction between justice and vengeance.

   I think most of us also believe--and certainly Secretary Powell has said
this more than once, as it is terribly
important--that the use of force, the military action, must be as targeted
as possible; that every step be taken that is
humanly possible to avoid innocent people being killed, innocent Afghans who
had nothing to do with the murders in
our country.

   I worry to the extent that there are reports that innocent people have
been killed in the bombing. I certainly worry
about that. Our country wants to avoid that. Moreover, there is also the
whole question of the Islamic world and how
people respond to this. So, again, I will make the point that this has to be
as carefully targeted as possible.

   But the other issue, which I do not think we have paid enough attention
to--and I had a chance to write a piece for
the Boston Globe a couple weeks ago, and I am going to start speaking about
this in the Chamber more, and I think
there is a lot of strong bipartisan interest and support for this--is the
whole question of this humanitarian crisis in
Afghanistan.

   The reports are there are about 7.5 million people who go hungry. We do
not know how many hundreds of
thousands could starve to death this winter if we do not get food to people.

   The problem is, though there has been a lot of discussion about the
airdrops, maybe a half of 1 percent, maybe 1
percent at best, doesn't do the job. The only way we can get the food to
people is through the truck convoys, and
now not nearly enough of this is happening.

   Different organizations, the NGOs, the nongovernment organizations, food
relief organizations, are all saying on
present course they may be able to get enough food for half the people who
need it at best. In 3 or 4 weeks there will
be cold winter weather, and we will see pictures of innocent, starving
Afghan children. That is a fact.

   The resolution calls upon our Government to take stronger measures, with
a more focused effort to get the food to
people. That will be complicated. Part of it involves people who will still
be trying to leave Afghanistan. Some of the
neighboring countries have to open up their borders. Those people have been
stopped at the borders. Then there are
the people who don't leave. And the conditions in the refugee camps have to
be dramatically improved.

   The fact is, the people who don't leave are the poorest of the poor. They
are the elderly, the infirmed; they are the
children. They are the ones about whom we all worry. There have been
intermittent reports--quite often when you try
to confirm it, it is not clear what happened--that the Taliban itself

                                [Page: S10844]  GPO's PDF

has taken some of the food. Many organizations are saying with the bombing
the truck convoys can't go through.

   I am not making an argument for cessation of bombing. I argue it be as
targeted as possible and to avoid in every
way possible bombing innocent people. There has to be a way, whether it is
the creation of safe corridors,
coordinated with military activity or whatever to get these truck convoys in
to get the food to people. Time is not
neutral. We are going to deeply regret if we don't take these steps.

   The resolution expresses the sense of the Senate regarding the urgent
need to provide humanitarian assistance to the
civilians of Afghanistan. Well before the terrorist attack of September 11,
this was the site of great hunger and
displacement in the world.

   Whereas, after more than 20 years of conflict, 3 years of severe drought
and the repressive policies of the Taliban
regime, 4 million Afghans have sought refuge in neighboring countries, and
Afghan women have one of the highest
maternal mortality rates in the world, and one in four children dies before
the child's fifth birthday; whereas the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 1,500,000 additional
Afghans could seek to flee the country
in the coming months due to the military conflict; whereas all six countries
neighboring Afghanistan have closed their
borders to refugees both on security grounds and are also saying they can't
provide for the refugees economically;
whereas 7,500,000 people inside Afghanistan face critical food shortages or
risk starvation by winter's end and are
partially or fully dependent on outside assistance for survival, and of
these people 70 percent are women and children;
whereas the United Nations World Food Program, which we commonly call the
WFP, which distributes most of the
food within Afghanistan, estimates that food stocks in the country are
critically short and WFP overland food
shipments inside and outside the border of Afghanistan have been disrupted
due to security concerns over United
States military strikes; whereas the airdrops of food cannot meet the
humanitarian needs of the Afghan people--and
there is more to

   it, but I do not have the time--and that the most effective delivery is
the overland convoys of food; whereas the
President has announced a $320 million initiative to respond to the
humanitarian needs in Afghanistan and for Afghan
refugees in neighboring countries; whereas the United States is the largest
donor of humanitarian assistance, be it
resolved--and this is what I am hoping to get a strong vote on--it is the
sense of the Senate that, A, Afghanistan's
neighbors should reopen their borders to allow for safe passage of refugees,
and the international community must be
prepared to contribute to the economic costs incurred by the flight of
desperate Afghan civilians; B, as the United
States engages in military action in Afghanistan, it must work to deliver
assistance particularly through overland truck
convoys and safe humanitarian access to affected populations in partnership
with humanitarian agencies--that is
critical--and C, the United States should contribute to efforts by the
international community to provide long-term
sustainable reconstruction and development assistance for the people of
Afghanistan, including efforts to protect the
basic human rights of women and children.

   I announce this resolution today, which will be in the form of an
amendment on the first vehicle for a vote, because it
is critically important for the Senate to go on record with an intense and
focused effort because it is who we are. It is
our values to make sure these truck convoys can go forward and we can get
the food to people.

   A, it is who we are as a nation. It is about the values we live by and,
frankly, B, it is national interest. If you have
juxtaposed with military actions pictures of starving Afghan children in the
winter to come, that will be used against us.
We know it will be used against us. We do not want to see that happen.

   I am hoping there will be a strong message from the Senate to work with
the administration, to work with the
NGOs, to work with the food relief organizations. We have to put a focus on
this.

Email Date:Wednesday, October 24, 2001 9:40 PM

Email To:X

Email From:X

Email Cc:NULL

Email Subject:[MAPC-policy] Wellstone's S.172


view more information about this object