Statement on Humanitarian Assistance for Central America

December 23, 1983

As we celebrate the many blessings of our great nation and share the spirit of Christmas, we should take the time to consider the plight of those not far from our shores in Central America. The turmoil there is taking an incredible human toll. There are more than 850,000 refugees and displaced persons in Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. In El Salvador alone, more than 400,000 men, women, and children have been forced to flee their homes by guerrillas seeking control of the country through violence. Tens of thousands more have fled the brutal revolution of broken promises in Nicaragua.

Meeting the desperate needs of the victims of aggression and oppression is a key part of what we are seeking to achieve in the region. Through our government programs, we have relieved some of the human suffering in the region. Much more can be done, and much more needs to be done. Help from individual American citizens is very important. Government funding encourages the help of private voluntary organizations, but your personal support is essential to keep them going. The greatest need is to improve the delivery of aid to the needy and involve more of our own private voluntary organizations in this delivery effort.

You can make a difference, and I encourage you to contact voluntary agencies working in Central America in which you have confidence. They need your financial support and your technical and medical skills. If you would like to contribute or offer your services and don't know of a volunteer organization, please write the American Committee for Voluntary Agencies, 200 Park Avenue South, New York, N.Y. 10003. I can't think of a better way to share the spirit of Christmas and work for peace on Earth and good will toward mankind.