The devastation of Hurricane Katrina has put the world's only remaining superpower in an unfamiliar place: on the receiving end of an outpouring of international aid.
At last count, 94 countries and world organizations had offered a offered ranging from millions of dollars in funds to water-purification systems, high-speed pumps, medical personnel and cargo plans ferrying food, blankets and cots, according to the U.S. Department of State.
"I think the American people can take great heart from the fact that when we need help, when we need assistance, the world is answering the call," State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said in a briefing Tuesday.
Germany and Italy have both donated MREs (meals ready to eat), CNN reports, while Canada and Singapore have loaned aircraft to ferry goods and transport evacuees out of the distressed region (see "Officials Worried About Disease As Thousands Refuse To Evacuate New Orleans").
Kuwait, which the United States liberated from Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War, is providing $500 million in assistance, with $400 million in oil and $100 million in cash, McCormack said. The Persian Gulf state's neighbors Qatar and the United Arab Emirates made donations of $100 million.
Spain is sending two Hercules cargo planes loaded with $437,000 worth of relief supplies. The first plane will transport 6,000 rations of emergency food, and the second will carry water-purification, first-aid and sanitary equipment; hospital tents, blankets and cots; and electrical generators, CNN reports.
Sweden is donating a water-purification system and a cellular network, and Germany is sending over high-speed water pumps, McCormack said. The Netherlands has offered to help rebuild the levees.
Last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the government will turn down no offers of aid that would assist the victims of Katrina — a catastrophe President Bush has called "one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history."
"We have seen the American people respond generously to help others around the globe during their times of distress, such as during the recent tsunami," Rice said, "[and] today we are seeing a similar urgent, warm and compassionate reaction from the international community in response to Katrina."
Cuban President Fidel Castro, a dictator who has been a longtime foe of the United States, has offered to send 1,000 doctors to treat hurricane victims. McCormack said the offer was turned down because the extra help wasn't needed, given the strong response of U.S. medical volunteers.
Foreign aid has even seeped into the realm of higher education. The University of Innsbruck in Austria is considering opening its doors to 500 displaced college students from New Orleans for its winter semester, The Associated Press reports.
"We don't think of the [victims] as Americans. We think of them as our friends who live in America," said Mathias Schennach, who leads the college's international relations office. "People here have an open heart for Americans."
Partial list of international donors, according to the State Department:
- Australia: $7.6 million
- Bahrain: $5 million
- Bangladesh: $1 million
- Belgium: medical teams
- Canada: two helicopters, 32-person rescue team, evacuation flights, medical supplies
- China: $5.1 million in cash and relief supplies
- France: tents, tarps, food, water-treatment supplies
- Germany: food and high-speed pumps
- India: $5 million
- Japan: $1 million, generators, tents, blankets, bottled water
- Kuwait: $400 million in oil, $100 million in cash
- Mexico: bedding, food, baby items, personal hygiene kits
- Qatar: $100 million
- South Korea: $30 million
- Taiwan: $2 million cash, medical supplies
- Thailand: food
- United Kingdom: food
- Venezuela: up to $1 million
On Saturday, be sure to watch "MTV News Special: After the Storm," which premieres at 7:30 p.m. ET. And immediately after, stay tuned for "ReAct Now: Music & Relief," MTV, VH1 and CMT's Hurricane Katrina benefit concert special. The show will run from 8-11 p.m. ET and will feature Usher, Green Day, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Ludacris, the Rolling Stones, David Banner and many more.
To find out what you can do to help provide relief to victims of Katrina, head to think MTV's hurricane relief page.