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Tsunami Aid Update

The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:

The United States is planning to increase assistance to survivors of the tsunamis, or tidal waves, that struck countries bordering the Indian Ocean. The countries hardest hit were India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Thailand.

Governments of affected countries, the United Nations, and others report that more than one-hundred-sixty-thousand people died from the earthquake-induced tsunamis. Another one-hundred-thirty-nine-thousand are missing. And over one-million-one-hundred-thousand others lost their homes.

Within twenty-four hours after the tsunamis struck, the U.S. mounted a government-wide response involving the Departments of State, Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The U.S. Navy was on the scene within seventy-two hours, distributing food, fresh water, and other supplies. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says the magnitude of the recovery effort has been huge:

"We, in the Department of Defense, but also the American people more broadly, having achieved an enormous humanitarian success in the early days in preventing what could have been an even larger catastrophe, now have, I think, a very large stake in making sure that success doesn't go to waste because a subsequent recovery effort failed."

President George W. Bush has asked the U.S. Congress for nine-hundred-fifty-million dollars to help the nations hardest hit recover from this tragedy, including Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, and Indonesia. That figure is more than twice the originally three-hundred-fifty-million dollars pledged by the U.S. Andrew Natsios is the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. He says the new funds are needed to rebuild infrastructure, including roads:

"We are now talking with the ministries in Indonesia and the ministries in Sri Lanka to focus on projects that are their first priority. This is their reconstruction program, not ours."

The U.S. "is committed to helping the people who suffer," says President George W. Bush. "We're committed today and we will be committed tomorrow."