Right after coalition forces began military action against Iraq, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) dispatched special teams to countries bordering Iraq to assess the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people and to provide assistance.

Bill Gravelink, a senior official at USAID said the agency is fully prepared to supply humanitarian and economic aid to the Iraqi people. "Disaster assistance response team has prepositioned emergency relief supplies for more than a million people here in the region." He adds that the goal of USAID is to save lives and reduce suffering. Within the past couple of months, he says, the USAID and other U.S. agencies have trained emergency response rescue teams, prepared emergency supplies for distribution and strengthened cooperation and communication between the U.S. and international organizations.

Mr. Gravelink notes that America is prepared to supply food to the Iraqi people throughout the war. These supplies will be given for distribution to several international relief programs. Also, he says, USAID plans to help countries in Iraq's neighborhood that receive war refugees.

According to Mr. Gravelink, the USAID shipped, among other things, 120,000 wool blankets, 35,000 personal hygiene items and hundreds of tents. Mr. Gravelink adds that the Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance plans to construct three moveable outpost offices in and around Kuwait City for the purpose of providing relief more quickly to those in need.

Mr. Gravelink says the emergency response team has on hand over six-thousand specialists in hygiene, food, water and refugee housing, as well as in raising funds for other areas, such as back-up support and transportation.