January 24, 1986

The President met today with five Afghan children, victims of the continuing Soviet war against the people of Afghanistan. The children are being treated in the United States for severe wounds and burns they received as a result of the fighting in their homeland. They were brought to the United States by the Free Afghanistan Alliance, a private voluntary organization based in Cambridge, which has arranged for the children to receive treatment and prosthetic devices through an affiliate of the Massachusetts General Hospital.

These children are a poignant reminder of the thousands more who have been killed and hurt since the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and who have little or no prospect of adequate medical care. The United States Government, with the support of Congress, provided funds for humanitarian assistance, including medical training, to the freedom fighters and victims of the Soviet war. The American people, particularly groups such as the Free Afghanistan Alliance and the Committee for a Free Afghanistan, have given generously to alleviate the plight of the refugees and those who remain in Afghanistan. But the real solution to the problem must be a political one, including the complete withdrawal of Soviet forces, the establishment of conditions for the safe return of the refugees, and a guarantee of the Afghan people's right to self-determination.