U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that the United States is committed to helping the countries of Africa overcome the devastating effects of epidemics and civil conflict. To this end, President George W. Bush launched a fifteen-billion-dollar program to bring treatment to hundreds of thousands of Africans suffering from AIDS. Mr. Bush also announced an initiative aimed at eradicating half of the more than two-hundred-million malaria cases on the African continent. Nearly one-and-a-half billion dollars have been earmarked for this.
The United States played a key role in ending the civil war in Liberia. In the Darfur region of Sudan, fighting, famine, and disease have killed more than two-hundred-thousand people. Some two-million people now live in refugee camps in Darfur or in neighboring Chad.
Secretary of State Rice said the U.S. remains committed to ending the conflict in Darfur:
"I myself visited a Darfur camp, a refugee camp not too long ago. These people deserve better. They deserve to have a prospect of going home, which is why we've been active in working on a peace arrangement there."
Ms. Rice said that Africa should be seen not only as "a place of problems," but as "a place of great opportunity." For that reason, the United States continues to offer African countries incentives to open their economies and build free markets, including quota- and duty-free entry into the United States for certain goods. This has led to the growth of an apparel industry in southern Africa. "Nothing improves the capability or the prospects for job growth like free trade," said Secretary of State Rice:
"And the United States has made possible African goods to come into the American market on a preferential basis. This has tremendously improved job growth in Africa."
The United States, said Secretary of State Rice, "has partnered with good leaders in Africa to try to improve the prospects for a more prosperous and healthy life" for the people of Africa.