Remarks Announcing Additional United States Food Assistance to Africa

December 5, 1984

Jack, thank you very much.

I'm happy to announce that the United States is taking additional actions today to provide increased assistance to the victims of the terrible drought which affects major parts of Africa.

Three hundred thousand metric tons of wheat from our government reserve is being made immediately available for emergency food programs. In addition, $50 million from other accounts is being transferred for emergency food use. Finally, additional requirements are under review, and, if necessary, we will seek additional resources from the Congress.

These actions are in addition to unprecedented American efforts which have been underway for many months. During the last fiscal year, we provided 500,000 tons of emergency food to Africa. This $170-million grant was more than in any previous year. On July 10th of this year, I announced a five-point initiative to speed up U.S. delivery of emergency food aid. And in the past 2 months, we surpassed all of last year's levels -- 600,000 tons of food with a value of more than $250 million.

The people of Africa continue to be in desperate need and the cost in human lives, as Jack has told us, is horrible. The United States will continue to uphold our humanitarian tradition. While our emergency aid seeks to help remedy today's suffering, our regular programs of development and assistance will continue to work to eliminate the root cause of famine. These programs will help Africa grow more food in the years to come.

And beyond any governmental program, however, I want to pay tribute to the outpouring of support which the African crisis has produced in the private community. Organizations such as CARE, Catholic Relief, Lutheran World Service, AFRICARE, the Red Cross, the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children Fund, and many others have provided the manpower on the ground which has permitted programs to reach those most needing assistance. The contributions and support of millions of caring individuals have been absolutely stunning and are essential. And this is America at its very best.

We in the government and those in the private sector recognize that much more needs to be done. And in the weeks and months ahead, we'll do everything possible to assist in this important, life-saving work.

Thank you, and God bless you all. And I will now sign.

Note: The President spoke at 2:06 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House during a meeting with Members of Congress and administration officials. He was introduced by Secretary of Agriculture John R. Block, who also addressed the group.

Following his remarks, the President signed a statement concerning additional U.S. assistance.