After years of war, drought and rule by the repressive Taliban regime, Afghanistan faces a major humanitarian crisis. In particular, the most vulnerable Afghans -- the more than 10 million children -- are suffering.
Americans are concerned about the welfare of Afghan children and wish to reinforce the fact that America's actions are focused on destroying a terror network and are not directed against the innocent people and children of Afghanistan.
In response to the outpouring of humanitarian concern by Americans, the President has announced the creation of "America's Fund for Afghan Children ," which will encourage children and their families to contribute to relief efforts for Afghan children. In particular, it is hoped that the children of America will be inspired to make contributions of one dollar -- or whatever they can give -- which can be sent individually or collectively to the Fund.
The new Fund builds on the recent announcement by President Bush of $320 million in additional aid to help meet the food and relief needs of Afghans this winter.
The Plight of the Afghan Children
More than 10 million children in Afghanistan have suffered under years of civil war and drought and now suffer under the repressive Taliban regime:
- Afghanistan ranks number one worldwide in maternal mortality.
- One in four Afghan children will not make it to their fifth birthday.
- One in three Afghan children is an orphan.
- Almost 1/2 of Afghan children suffer chronic malnutrition.
- Millions face the threat of starvation.
Building on a History of Success
The President's new initiative to assist Afghan children is modeled on the original 1938 March of Dimes campaign from the Roosevelt Administration. In that successful campaign, President Franklin Roosevelt appealed to American children to each donate a dime to help eradicate polio. The effort succeeded not only in raising funds for the effort that defeated polio, but also in generating significant interest among American youth at helping others in need. The original campaign was a grassroots effort, supported by the leadership of the President of the United States.
How the Program Will Work
Just like President Roosevelt's program, children will send their contributions to the White House. Contributions will be sent to:
America's Fund for Afghan Children
c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
Washington, DC, 20509-1600.
The White House has created a special zip code to help identify and expedite donations to the Fund. The White House will send the contributions to the American Red Cross (ARC), which will administer the program. To ensure maximum coordination with the humanitarian relief effort, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will consult with the American Red Cross on disbursements from the Fund.
The American Red Cross will use its existing fundraising and administrative structure to process the contributions and manage the fund, assume accountability for its appropriate use (in consultation with USAID), post the results of the effort on its official web site and provide ongoing updates to the White House.
The American Red Cross will aid Afghan children through direct programs in the region, as well as through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the appropriate Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies. The American Red Cross will also provide grants to other organizations engaged in charitable works for Afghan children. Through these programs, needed food, shelter and medicines will be provided to the children of Afghanistan.
The Fund will help not only Afghan children living in Afghanistan but also those who are now refugees in neighboring countries. The ARC will use its existing fundraising and administrative structure to receive donations and will manage the Fund in an account segregated from their other operating accounts. The ARC will absorb all overhead costs so that every dollar contributed by the American people to the Fund will directly benefit Afghan children.