Crisis in Kampuchea: Starvation and Genocide

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NBC Nightly News
John Chancellor/Judy Woodruff/Jack Reynolds
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Video News Report
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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President Jimmy Carter unveils an government aid package for refugees in Cambodia and Thailand. Three US senators, the first US delegation since 1975, visits with the government in Kampuchea.



"Crisis in Kampuchea: Starvation and Genocide." Judy Woodruff, Jack Reynolds, correspondent. NBC Nightly News. NBCUniversal Media. 24 Oct. 1979. NBC Learn. Web. 11 January 2020.


Woodruff, J. (Reporter), & Reynolds, J. (Reporter), & Chancellor, J. (Anchor). (1979, October 24). Crisis in Kampuchea: Starvation and Genocide. [Television series episode]. NBC Nightly News. Retrieved from


"Crisis in Kampuchea: Starvation and Genocide" NBC Nightly News, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 10/24/1979. Accessed Sat Jan 11 2020 from NBC Learn:


Crisis in Kampuchea: Starvation and Genocide


President Carter today unveiled a plan to spend almost 70 million dollars to aid the people of Cambodia, who are suffering from tragic and widespread starvation. Some of the money will come from funds which are available now, the Congress will be asked for the rest. Judy Woodruff has the story at the White House.

JUDY WOODRUFF reporting:

The American aid package includes $30 million worth of food and other assistance to go to Cambodia immediately. Another 9 million will go to Thailand to take care of Cambodian refugees there; in addition Congress is being asked to appropriate another $30 million to be made available next spring. But in his announcements here, the President said government help alone is not enough.

President JIMMY CARTER: I ask specifically that every Saturday and Sunday in the month of November up until Thanksgiving, be set aside as days for Americans in their synagogues and churches and otherwise to give generously to help alleviate this suffering.

WOODRUFF: Mr. Carter made his pledge after an appeal from a group of religious and volunteer agency leaders who said they would try to match government aid. Their spokesman, the Reverend Theodore Hesburgh said almost half of Cambodia’s population has already died and another three million people are in danger of starving.

Reverend THEODORE HESBURGH (Notre Dame University): We have in the making, if one would look at it closely, another Holocaust. And we have the possibility of a whole people being wiped out, the Cambodian people, who have always been known as a peaceful, gentle people, in a peaceful gentle land.

CHANCELLOR: There were three United States Senators in Cambodia today asking authorities there to agree to allow convoys of trucks to bring in food from Thailand. Those authorities in Phnom Penh call Cambodia by a different name, to them its Kampuchea, and that’s the way our correspondent Jack Reynolds describes the country in the follow report on the American Senators.

JACK REYNOLDS reporting:

The three U.S. Senators, Sasser of Tennessee, Danforth of Missouri and Baucus of Montana, with the backing of the president and bipartisan congressional leaders proposed a plan that would involve Kampuchea, Vietnam, Thailand the United States - a plan that might help save the Khmer people from extinction. They took that proposal to Phnom Penh today, the first U.S. delegation since 1975 to meet with leaders of the Vietnamese backed government of Kampuchea. That government didn’t give a direct answer, but referred the Senators’ plan to the central committee. But the Senators were optimistic; on their return to Bangkok they held a press conference. Senator Danforth expressed the feelings of the group.

DANFORTH: All that has to be done is that the people of Phnom Penh, give the word. That’s all they have to do, is just to say one word, ‘yes.’ They can say it now, they can say it tonight, if they had a telephone they could pick up the telephone, and they could say, ‘yes, go right ahead.’

REYNOLDS: The Senators think their plan will be approved by the Phnom Penh government, but the key question is one of time; everyday, people are dying. Jack Reynolds, NBC News, Bangkok.