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Release No: 121-95
March 10, 1995


The Department of Defense and Bridges America Foundation have joined forces to transport about $1 million of humanitarian aid to Haiti. Approximately 300,000 pounds of food stuffs, medical supplies and other relief items are scheduled to leave for Haiti tomorrow from the Port of Beaumont, Texas, aboard Military Sealift Command's "American Condor." Once offloaded in Haiti, the supplies will be distributed to medical clinics, orphanages and numerous cooperatives.

Bridges America Foundation, based in Houston, is one of the nation's largest nonprofit, noncommercial consolidators of humanitarian goods. It administers, consolidates and facilitates the shipping of donated goods from hundreds of individuals, churches, community groups and companies nationwide. This is the third Bridges' shipment to Haiti in the past five months, totaling over $7 million in humanitarian assistance.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Humanitarian and Refugee Affairs Patricia L. Irvin explained that the Department, in cooperation with other government agencies and within the limits of its resources, understands its responsibility to help alleviate suffering throughout the world. She said the Department's Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP) is often the most economical means available to transport donated goods to foreign countries for humanitarian purposes.

"Americans have traditionally been generous, caring and compassionate people," Irvin said. "This characteristic is intertwined throughout our Constitution, has been part of our development as a country and today forms the basis of many of our governmental policies and actions."

Garrett Robinson, executive director of Bridges America Foundation, said transportation often is the most critical link in the chain of humanitarian giving. The government handling the shipping and the private sector managing the donating, consolidation and preparation is a beneficial combination. He described the Department's assistance to Bridges America Foundation as an "excellent example of how the private sector and government can work together efficiently and cost effectively."

"The process of soliciting, gathering, domestically transporting and packaging goods is very costly in terms of money and manpower," Robinson added. "The private sector gladly handles this. However, when faced with the additional burden of transportation to foreign countries, the entire process oftentimes becomes prohibitive."

The Department's Office of Humanitarian and Refugee Affairs is responsible for policy oversight and management of the HAP. In the past two years, 115 transportation missions have been accomplished to more than 50 countries. Acquisition value of the property collected in Fiscal Year 1994 totaled over $136 million.

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