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Njcrac Urges Administration to Support Humanitarian Emergency Relief, Citing Disaster in Africa

April 12, 1984
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC) has urged the Reagan Administration “to support humanitarian emergency relief as a matter of urgency and without regard to the political ideologies of the recipient countries.”

“To do so may prevent a disaster of major proportions from occurring in Africa,” the NJCRAC said in a letter to Secretary of State George Shultz. The letter was signed by Donald Lefton, NJCRAC international commission chairman, Robert Schrayer, chairman of the NJCRAC committee on Ethiopian Jews, and Jacqueline Levine, NJCRAC chairperson.

NJCRAC noted the severity of the current drought afflicting more than 150 million people in some 24 countries in Africa. One of the countries affected is Ethiopia with a Jewish population estimated at 20,000 persons, the letter said, adding that this is the second year of the drought and “food stocks are expected to be exhausted before new harvests become available.”


Ethiopia is ranked fourth among the countries most severely hurt by the drought, and NJCRAC’s appeal to Shultz to supply relief aid to countries “without regard” to the countries” political ideologies” appears to be an indirect appeal for aid to Ethiopia. United Nations officials estimate that 50 to 100 children are dying daily in northern Ethiopia as a result of the drought.

The Administration originally requested $90 million for food aid to meet the relief needs of all of Africa. Sponsors of Congressional initiatives for food aid differ with the Administration as to the total amount of aid needed and the portion of the total the U.S. should contrbute.

The House approved a bill providing $150 million in relief aid while the Senate approved the Administration’s request of $90 million. The famine relief appropriation will have to go to conference to settle the $60 million differential.

Noting that the current drought may take an even greater toll than did the famine of 1973-1974, NJCRAC declared in the letter to Shultz: “Thus it is critical that the United States government respond generously to pending and future emergency relief appeals for food, medical supplies, seeds, shelter needs; and that appropriate funding for inland transport of aid be part of such aid packages.”

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