President Bush says American relief efforts are making visible progress in the nations hardest hit by the December 26 tsunami, which left at least 150,000 people dead.
In his weekly radio address to the American people, Mr. Bush says while Americans continue to mourn the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami, the United States government is working with other nations and non-governmental organizations to get aid to the region.
"The world has united behind this urgent cause, and the United States is taking a leading role," said President Bush. "We're working with other governments, relief organizations, and the United Nations to coordinate a swift and effective international response. We are rushing food, medicine, and other vital supplies to the region. And we are focusing efforts on helping the women and children who need special attention, including protection from the evil of human trafficking."
The president says the $350 million in U.S. aid is being distributed to relief organizations on the ground. In addition, the U.S. military has mounted its largest humanitarian relief effort in the region since the 1970's.
Mr. Bush said American servicemen are providing food, medical supplies and clean water to the tsunami victims. "Helicopters and other military aircraft are meeting critical needs by airlifting supplies directly to victims in remote areas," He noted.
Mr. Bush said he has asked his father and another former president, Bill Clinton, to lead a nationwide charitable fundraising drive. According to the president, their mission is to encourage Americans to donate directly to aid organizations with recovery efforts under way in the disaster area.
"Many of these organizations have long experience with natural disasters and in-depth knowledge of the recovery needs," he said. "They're in the best position to use donations wisely and effectively."
To encourage charitable donations, President Bush said he has signed legislation that will allow Americans who donate money to the tsunami relief efforts to receive a tax break.