USAID Gives $20 Million to Help Asia's Tsunami Recovery Efforts

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

(1st Add: Includes additional comments from deputy White House spokesman Trent Duffy.)

( - The White House said Tuesday $20 million from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has been added to the $15 million President Bush already authorized to help the earthquake/tsunami victims of Asia, and the U.S. military is also assisting the recovery efforts.

Speaking from Crawford, Texas, deputy White House spokesman Trent Duffy said $2 million of that money will go to Sri Lanka, $1 million to Indonesia, $100,000 each for India, the Maltese and Thailand, and an additional $4 million has been sent to the International Red Cross to support their efforts.

The U.S. military is also assisting the recovery efforts in Asia, Duffy said. "The Thailand government has offered the United States a base to use as a regional support center in the recovery effort," he said.

"There are a dozen C-130s from the Pacific command that are hauling in relief supplies as we speak including food, water, blankets, emergency shelter. You name it, it's on its way, and those relief supplies will continue to flow," Duffy said.

"The United States and the American people are the single largest contributors to international aid efforts across the globe. We have been for the past few years, and I have every expectation that that will continue," Duffy said.

"Those contributions take the form of official government assistance as well as individual charitable contributions to the Red Cross and other international nongovernmental organizations," Duffy added.

When asked why President Bush has not been seen publicly addressing the tsunami catastrophe, Duffy said the president has sent letters of condolences to the leaders in the seven countries. "The president is doing what is needed most, which is to authorize the U.S. government to play a leading role in the relief and recovery effort," he added.

When asked whether Bush plans to ask Congress to authorize more funds for the relief efforts, Duffy said, "I have nothing to announce at this time. Obviously as we just try to grasp what the scope of this tragedy and the response effort that's needed, we'll continue to assess the needs going forward."

"So I don't have anything to announce at this point, but should there be a need for additional resources, I have every expectation that the president would seek those," he added.

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