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News | May 21, 2009

Emergency Aid Reaches Pakistan Refugees

By Staff Sgt. Stacia Zachary , U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs

CHAKLALA, Pakistan (May 21, 2009) – A third U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft landed here today bringing emergency aid promised by the Department of Defense to the people of Pakistan who have evacuated the war-torn Swat Valley. Over the past 24 hours, three such aircraft delivered relief supplies here, part of $10 million in supplies pledged by DOD. The military effort is in addition to $100 million in various forms of aid from the U.S. government.

"This is the [shipment] of humanitarian aid Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced," said U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson.

The three airlift missions brought materials specifically requested by the Pakistan government to support its massive effort to care for the nearly 1.7 million citizens displaced by fighting in the northwestern provinces. Pakistan’s request to DOD included 120,000 pre-packaged Halal meals, environmentally controlled tents, electrical generators, and water trucks. "Pakistan has been relentless in their attempt to put an end to insurgent operations," said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Michael LeFever, Chief of the Office of Defense of the Republic – Pakistan.

A key part of that effort is providing adequate care for the civilians caught in the crossfire, according to the Pakistani government.

Drawing on his experience as the Joint Task Force Commander leading the humanitarian mission to aid the victims of Pakistan’s earthquake in October 2008, Rear Admiral LeFever is once again working directly with Pakistan Army Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmad, Special Support Group commander, to distribute U.S. aid to temporary camps for those fleeing the fighting.

"This humanitarian relief is a renewal of the continued relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan," the admiral said. "It only serves to better portray that sense of goodwill between allies in the fight against terrorist activities."

"This is a terrible situation that has been settled on these people. We’re basically the 9-1-1 emergency response," Rear Admiral LeFever said. "If they need anything else, we’re standing by to help them in any way possible."

As the relief supplies arrive, the admiral looks at broader picture. He foresees a rebuilding process after the initial emergency aid is delivered and the militant insurgency is quelled.

"Just as we are continuing to help with the earthquake victims," Admiral LeFever explained, "we plan to continue supporting the IDPs. Our intent is to help rebuild and reestablish this area after so much turmoil … so the IDPs can return to their homes."