International Disasters: How the United States Responds [Updated April 17, 2001]   [open pdf - 44KB]

From the Summary: "The President can provide and fund emergency humanitarian assistance through several sources authorized and appropriated by Congress. These are: funds appropriated to the Office of Foreign Disaster Administration (OFDA) in the Agency for International Development (FY2001 appropriations of $299 million), U.S. Department of Agriculture food aid programs under P.L. 480 Food for Peace (FY2001 appropriations of $837 million) and section 416 (b) of the Agriculture Act of 1949, the State Department Emergency Refugee and Migration Account, a contingency account which can contain as much as $100 million for assistance to refugees fleeing persecution, and funds appropriated to the Department of Defense, Office of Humanitarian and Refugee Affairs (FY2001 appropriation of $55.9 million). These funds are also available for some non-emergency programs. In addition, the President has the authority to draw down defense equipment and direct military personnel to respond to disasters and provide space available transportation on military aircraft and ships to private donors who wish to transport humanitarian goods and equipment in response to a disaster. Finally, he can request other government agencies to assist within their capabilities. The United States has long been a leader in helping victims of foreign disasters. Congress has given the President broad authority in this area. P.L. 87-195, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 authorized the United States to participate in disaster relief efforts and gave the President great flexibility to respond to disasters."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RS20622
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