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US announces $ 100 million aid for Pakistan

The United States has announced a $ 100 million humanitarian support package for Pakistan in response to a request from the government of that country for help to provide relief to people affected by the ongoing military operations against the Taliban in the Swat Valley and elsewhere.

The latest amount comes on top of almost $ 60 million that the US has provided since last August to help Pakistanis who have been affected by the conflicts, and in addition to the othe funding for Pakistan that the Obama Administration is already seeking from the Congress.

"Providing this assistance is not only the right thing to do, but we believe it is essential to global security and the security of the United States, and we are prepared to do more as the situation demands," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a press conference called at the White House Tuesday to announce the package.

Ms Clinton reiterated the US commitment ot stand by Pakistan's people and the democratically elected government there as they work to restore security in their country.

"And President Obama is determined to match our words with our actions, because Pakistan's government is leading the fight against extremists that threaten the future of their country and our collective security," she said.

Ms Clinton said that, at the same time, Pakistan is facing a major humanitarian crisis. She said about two million people had fled their homes and the Pakistani government, the militry and relief organisations were working to meet the needs of these displaced persons.

"So many are finding refuge with family members, or in schools or mosques; they are relying on the generosity of relatives and friends. And I'm confident that Pakistan's institutions and citizens will succeed in confronting this humanitarian challenge if the international community steps up and provides the support that is needed," she said.

Ms Clinton recalled the US had a history of working with the Pakistani authorities to alleviate suffering and mentioned the earthquake that struck the country in 2005 as an example. She said the US had, altogether, provided more than $ 3.4 billion since 2002 to alleviate suffering and promote economic growth, education, health and good governance in Pakistan.

She said a U.S. Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) and personnel from the US embassy in Islamabad are on the ground working with and supporting Pakistani authorities in evaluating needs for shelter, food, health, water and sanitation services. She said supplies from the US were already flowing to Pakistan. She also said that one of the guiding principles of this assistance package was that it should be more than just the delivery of supplies.

Ms Clinton said that Americans could, using their cell phones, text the word SWAT to the number 20222 and make a $ 5 contribution that would help the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees provide tents, clothing, food and medicine to hundreds of thousands of affected people.

Ms Clinton said President Obama and she oped that individuals who had fled the conflict would be able to return home quickly, safely, and on a voluntary basis. "...the United States stands ready to help Pakistan's government support displaced persons as they rebuild their lives," she said.

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