June 10, 1999
Release No. 034-99

CONTACT: Kelly Lees, (202) 619-4355
David Shapiro (PhonLynx), 800-698-9950

United States Information Agency - News Release

Public/Private Partnership Provides Phone Cards for Kosovar Refugees

Fort Dix, New Jersey -- Representatives of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), PhonLynx, and US Wats today delivered 3,000 phone cards representing a $30,000 contribution to Kosovar refugees at Fort Dix. USIA is partnering with PhonLynx, a leader in the pre-paid phonecard industry, and US Wats, one of the nation's premier providers of domestic and international telecommunications, to provide refugees with the gift of communication.

"Meeting the pressing and real needs of the refugees is a critical task. This public/private partnership benefits the refugees at Fort Dix by giving them access to the world of communication and providing them with a sense of community," said Jonathan Spalter, USIA Associate Director for Information and Chief Information Officer.

"We're thrilled to make a contribution. The refugees are under tremendous personal stress. At least now they know they can freely make contact with the outside world," said David Shapiro, Vice President of PhonLynx. David Hurwitz, President of US Wats, stressed, "These frightened people are living a nightmare. They're separated from family members and uncertain what tomorrow will bring. We're thrilled to help."

PhonLynx and US Wats have vowed to respond to increased needs. Says Shapiro, "NATO has been a good friend to us and to the world. Their commitment to stabilizing Kosovo and protecting innocent people is enormous. We'll continue to help as needed." Hurwitz concurs, "NATO has become the fulcrum of this volatile situation. Hopefully, other American businesses will come forward and support NATO's efforts."

PhonLynx and US Wats, creators of the official NATO Summit 50th Anniversary Commemorative Phone Card, are two new partners in the Kosovar Refugee Internet and Technology Assistance Initiative. This USIA-led public/private initiative addresses the information and humanitarian needs of Kosovo's refugees. The partnership links government agencies, technology companies, foundations, and international relief organizations in a coordinated effort to supply the hardware, software, connectivity, and technical support to build Refugee Internet Information Centers in or near refugee camps in Macedonia, Albania, Germany, France, Poland, and in the U.S. at Fort Dix.

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The United States Information Agency, headed by Acting Director Penn Kemble, is an independent foreign affairs agency within the executive branch that explains and supports U.S. foreign policy and national security interests abroad through a wide range of information programs. The Agency promotes mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through a series of educational and cultural exchange activities.

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