Sen. Patrick J. Leahy Holds a Hearing On Examining Assistance for Civilian Casualties of War

Extract


Sen. Patrick J. Leahy Holds a Hearing On Examining Assistance for Civilian Casualties of War

SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS, SUBCOMMITTEE ON STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS, AND RELATED PROGRAMS HOLDS A HEARING ON EXAMINING ASSISTANCE FOR CIVILIAN CASUALTIES OF WAR

APRIL 1, 2009

SPEAKERS: SEN. PATRICK J. LEAHY, D-VT. CHAIRMAN SEN. TOM HARKIN, D-IOWA SEN. BARBARA A. MIKULSKI, D-MD. SEN. RICHARD J. DURBIN, D-ILL. SEN. TIM JOHNSON, D-S.D. SEN. MARY L. LANDRIEU, D-LA. SEN. JACK REED, D-R.I. SEN. DANIEL K. INOUYE, D-HAWAII

SEN. JUDD GREGG, R-N.H. RANKING MEMBER SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY. SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, R-PA. SEN. ROBERT F. BENNETT, R-UTAH SEN. CHRISTOPHER S. BOND, R-MO. SEN. SAM BROWNBACK, R-KAN. SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER, R-TENN. SEN. THAD COCHRAN, R-MISS. EX OFFICIO

WITNESSES: DIRK DJIKERMAN, ACTING ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR, DEMOCRACY, CONFLICT AND HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE, U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

CA VA TRAN, PRESIDENT, VIETNAM ASSISTANCE FOR THE HANDICAPPED

JOHN CHROMY, VICE PRESIDENT, EXTERNAL RELATIONS, COOPERATIVE HOUSING FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL

ERICA GASTON, AFGHANISTAN FELLOW, CAMPAIGN FOR INNOCENT VICTIMS IN CONFLICT

JON TRACY, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MILITARY JUSTICE

[*] LEAHY: Good morning. I'm glad to see everyone here.

I could not help but think, it was 21 years ago when I visited a field hospital in the jungle bordering Nicaragua and Honduras. Some of you in this room have heard this story before. It was during the war between the Contras and the Sandinistas, and it was, as often happens in wars, it was the civilians who bore the brunt of the casualties.

There was a young boy there who the medics had basically adopted; he had no place to go. He had lost a leg from a land mine. He had a homemade wooden crutch.

They had put some blankets over in a corner, and that's where he stayed. He had no way of working in fields or in the jungles to gather food, and he was -- he was just living there. I know that -- I asked some questions whether (inaudible) the land mine was from Contras or from Sandinistas. He didn't know who they were. He didn't really even know that there was another country just a few miles from where he was.

He did know that his life was ruined because of that land mine.

And following that, I began the War Victims Fund, and I might say, this is something that had been totally bipartisan because shortly after one of the times when the control of the Senate changed, Republicans came in control, Senator Mitch McConnell became chairman of this committee. He introduced legislation and renamed it the Patrick Leahy War Victims Fund.

I'm proud to have my name on that, but I'm more proud about what has been done with it, however named. It responds to the fact that unlike a century ago when armies fought armies and that civilian casualties were the exception, not the rule, today it's overwhelmingly civilians who suffer the casualties.

The U.S. Institute of Peace report said the numbers of civilians who have died in armed conflicts in the past couple o...

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