July 25, 2024

Special Rep. Mcauliffes Travel to Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal; Strengthening UN’s Humanitarian & Disaster Relief, Rwanda; Sudan; Gender-Based Violence; Remarks – UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities; Climate Resilience; USDA New Virtual Nutritional Center

African finance ministers lament Africa occupies smallest seats at global decision-making tables
Three African finance ministers on Saturday lamented that Africa, a large continent of about 1.3 billion people, and with abundant natural resources, is often given smallest seats at global decision-making tables, including at the just concluded Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group. Finance ministers from Zambia, Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane, and Zimbabwe, Prof. Mthuli Ncube, acknowledged that although Africa is increasingly seen at decision-making tables, the continent often occupies the smallest seats there, especially because it is the recipient of aid and other forms of support from the rest of the world. The ministers made the comments at a press conference alongside the finance minister from South Sudan, Dier Tong Ngor, at the conclusion of the 2022 IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington. Video produced by Simon Ateba, todaynewsafrica.com You can read the full story below.

Special Representative McAuliffe’s Travel to Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
December 6, 2022

Special Representative Dorothy McAuliffe traveled to Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal November 12-19, 2022, to visit health facilities monitored by Parsyl, which provides risk management and cargo insurance for supply chains. In January 2021, the Office of Global Partnerships awarded a 12-month cooperative agreement to Parsyl  as part of the Department’s COVID-19 Private Sector Engagement and Partnership Fund to support COVID-19 cold chain data collection and analytics to help strengthen the vaccine cold chain distribution network at the national, district, and local level to support African countries with their economic recovery. Special Representative McAuliffe participated in roundtable discussions and laboratory site visits in urban and rural areas of both countries to better understand the important uses of Parsyl technology to mitigate risks of vaccine spoilage, both for COVID-19 and other diseases that require vaccination.

In Côte d’Ivoire, Special Representative McAuliffe held several high-level meetings with Ivorian public health officials and then followed the route of vaccines and Parsyl’s monitoring of their condition from the national level depot to a “last mile” health facility.  Special Representative McAuliffe started at Depot Central Expanded Program of Vaccination (DCPEV), the first location for vaccine storage monitoring prior to distribution along the in-country supply chain, then to Depot District Sanitaire (DDS) Koumassi, a district health facility where vaccines are stored and administered to local facilities, and finally to Centre de Sante Rural de Moosou, a “last mile” health facility where vaccines are administered to community members. While in Côte d’Ivoire, Special Representative McAuliffe met with 11 Ivorian alumnae of the Office of Global Partnerships’ 2021 Women in Science (WiSci) STEAM Camp, which included Moroccan and Ivorian high school girls.

In Senegal, she first visited the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, which Secretary Blinken visited in November 2021. There, Special Representative McAuliffe discussed U.S.-Senegal collaboration at the Institut for research, public health, and training.  The Special Representative then followed vaccines and the efficacy of Parsyl’s technology from the national level depot in Dakar to a “last mile” health facility.  Her first visit was to Hopital Fann, the National Medical Store in Dakar. She then traveled to the rural Theis Region, where she visited Dépôt District Tivaouane, a District Medical Store that stores and distributes vaccines to rural health facilities, and PS Pambal, a rural health facility where vaccines are administered to community members. While at PS Pambal, Special Representative McAuliffe met with frontline health workers and learned more about the impact of vaccination in rural communities.

To learn more about the Office of Global Partnerships and our current initiatives, please click here or visit https://www.state.gov/s/partnerships.  You may also email Partnerships@state.gov for more information.  For press inquiries, please contact Melanie Bonner at BonnerML@state.gov.

Remarks at the General Assembly: 45th Plenary Meeting, Strengthening of the Coordination of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance of the UN

Samuel Vigersky
Senior Humanitarian Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 6, 2022

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. President. The United States is pleased to cosponsor and join consensus on these three resolutions and reaffirms the vital function of the UN in responding to global humanitarian needs.

Last week, the UN released the Global Humanitarian Overview for 2023. Nearly 340 million people are expected to need humanitarian assistance, an all-time high. The appeal requests a staggering $51.5 billion.

Like last year, we are breaking the world’s worst records.

The world is facing an unprecedented food insecurity crisis. Countries reeling from increased hunger and malnutrition caused by COVID, conflicts, and climate shocks, now face further suffering from Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine.

The world is also suffering from a catastrophic climate crisis. From flooding in Pakistan to the unprecedented drought in the Horn of Africa. Families are facing impossible choices, choosing which child to feed and wondering whether they’ll survive.

And across the globe, we face a series of deadly and protracted conflicts.

On all fronts, the United States is stepping up to do the right thing and meet these urgent, global challenges.

We remain the largest single humanitarian donor, giving nearly $17 billion in humanitarian assistance in fiscal year 2022.

Since Russia launched its premeditated, unprovoked, and full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, the United States has provided more than $1.5 billion in humanitarian assistance to support those displaced, including refugees, and other vulnerable populations inside Ukraine and in the region.

In response to the global food insecurity crisis, we have committed nearly $11 billion since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In May, the United States introduced a roadmap for global food insecurity. More than 100 member states have already supported the Roadmap.

We continue to scale assistance for drought response in the Horn of Africa. We’ve doubled funding our commitments there to more than $2 billion this fiscal year.

Extremely high levels of food insecurity are driving humanitarian need in Afghanistan, where the United States is proud to be the largest bilateral donor of humanitarian assistance.

Conflicts account for over 80 percent of humanitarian needs globally.

In addition to Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, protracted violence in Ethiopia, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and South Sudan have driven humanitarian needs through the roof.

The parties to the violence are failing to help their citizens.

Warmongers are choosing violence over peace, corruption over prosperity, personal gain over protection of human rights.

The answer is not more violence. We need political solutions.

As President Biden has said, we must engage in relentless diplomacy.

We need to engage more effectively in diplomatic negotiations regionally and globally, bilaterally and multilaterally, in our capitols and at the UN, to bring parties together and end these conflicts.

In the meantime, we must defend those doing the difficult, dangerous, and necessary humanitarian work.

The United States is proud to co-sponsor the resolution on the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and the protection of UN personnel.

We are deeply concerned by the increase in safety and security incidents affecting all humanitarian personnel, especially locally recruited personnel.

For the first time, the resolution recognizes the increasing threat of disinformation campaigns that undermine in UN and humanitarian organizations and put aid workers at risk.

The United States remains concerned over the continued obstruction of humanitarian access by parties to conflict and attacks on humanitarian workers.

In Ethiopia, we are glad to see recent improvement in humanitarian access. But the persistent presence of Eritrean forces and bureaucratic impediments are still impeding aid to vulnerable populations in need, including survivors of widespread gender-based violence.

In Yemen, the long-term solution to the food insecurity crisis is lasting peace. We must do more to press all parties to the conflict, especially the Houthis, to comply with international humanitarian law.

In Syria, attacks by the Assad regime have killed humanitarian personnel and destroyed their facilities. The Assad regime continues to impede the flow of humanitarian aid to people in need around the country.

Across all conflicts, we must promote accountability, consistent with international law.

This means we must continue our longstanding work to keep the humanitarian consequences of the crises in Ethiopia, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and elsewhere on the Security Council agenda.

The United States has also proudly enhanced the understanding of what is permissible under UN sanctions, and minimized unintended negative impacts, especially on the flow of humanitarian assistance.

For example, Secretary Blinken announced an initiative in September to carve-out humanitarian activities across both U.S. and UN sanctions regimes.

We have also been focused on preventing and addressing sexual exploitation and abuse.

We must prioritize and strengthen our collective efforts to implement prevention and risk mitigation strategies.

We must provide support to survivors. We must enhance reporting mechanisms and hold perpetrators to account. And we must hold ourselves to a higher standard.

We can and should do everything we can to live up to our highest aspirations.

That means advancing management reforms, across UN agencies, to improve humanitarian outcomes for affected populations.

That means providing more financial and diplomatic support to those actors seeking to help people trapped in conflict.

And it means doing everything in our power to forge political solutions, hold bad actors to account, and push for permanent peace.

Before I conclude, I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm that resolutions are non-binding documents. They do not create or affect rights or obligations under international law. We refer you to our general statement delivered to the 77th General Assembly Second Committee session.

Thank you.

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Secretary Blinken’s Call with Rwandan President Kagame

Readout
Office of the Spokesperson
December 5, 2022

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke yesterday with Rwandan President Paul Kagame to discuss the importance of peace and stability in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Secretary Blinken expressed strong support for regional mediation and dialogue led by Angola and the East African Community. He underscored the need for concrete progress on and implementation of commitments made during these discussions, including the November 23 Luanda Mini-Summit on Peace and Security communiqué. Secretary Blinken made clear that any external support to non-state armed groups in the DRC must end, including Rwanda’s assistance to M23, an armed group that has been designated by the United States and the United Nations. Secretary Blinken also shared deep concern about the impact of the fighting on Congolese civilians who have been killed, injured and displaced from their homes. Secretary Blinken condemned the resurgence of hate speech and public incitement against Rwandaphone communities, recalling the real and horrible consequences of such rhetoric in the past.

Joint Statement by the Quad and Troika

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
December 5, 2022

Members of the Quad and Troika (Norway, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States) welcome the agreement of an initial political framework. This is an essential first step toward establishing a civilian-led government and defining constitutional arrangements to guide Sudan through a transitional period culminating in elections. We commend the parties’ efforts to garner support for this framework agreement from a broad range of Sudanese actors and their call for continued, inclusive dialogue on all issues of concern and cooperation to build the future of Sudan.  

We urge all Sudanese actors to engage in this dialogue urgently and in good faith. We acknowledge the military has made clear it is ready to step back from politics and engage constructively in the ongoing dialogue. We call on all parties to put Sudan’s national interest above narrow political ends. We also fully support the UNITAMS-AU-IGAD (the Tripartite Mechanism) role in facilitating these negotiations and call on all parties to do the same. Quad and Troika members support this Sudanese-led process and condemn spoilers attempting to restrict political space and undermine Sudan’s stability and democratic transition. 

A concerted effort to finalize negotiations and reach agreement quickly to form a new civilian-led government is essential to address Sudan’s urgent political, economic, security, and humanitarian challenges. This is the key to unlocking the resumption of international development assistance and deeper cooperation between the government of Sudan and international partners. We are working with partners to coordinate significant economic support to a civilian-led transitional government to help address the challenges facing the people of Sudan.

The United States Announces Safe from the Start ReVisioned Initiative to Strengthen Efforts to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies

Press Statement
Ned Price, Department Spokesperson
December 6, 2022 

The United States today launched Safe from the Start ReVisioned, an initiative that focuses on improving and expanding protection services for women and girls from the onset of every conflict or disaster. As conflicts and disasters exacerbate conditions of inequality, they uniquely impact women and girls. Support systems that are supposed to keep them safe – such as families, communities, and governments – can fall apart in emergencies, drastically increasing the risks of gender-based violence and making it hard to find desperately needed services, such as medical care, social workers, and counselors.

Safe from the Start ReVisioned demonstrates the United States’ commitment to advance a gender-transformative approach in humanitarian response. This initiative promotes women’s leadership and prioritizes support and advocacy for gender-based violence prevention and survivor-centered response programming. It also shifts funding, influence, and decision-making power to women and girls within humanitarian response systems.

The overarching goal of this initiative is to better prevent and respond to gender-based violence risks that are magnified in emergencies, such as intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and child, early, and forced marriage. To do so, it calls on the global community to improve conventional humanitarian responses by placing women and girls at the center of these efforts as leaders and key stakeholders.

The original Safe from the Start initiative, launched in 2013, helped draw global attention to gender-based violence programming as an essential, life-saving intervention from the onset of every humanitarian response. The United States provided more than $25 million in funding towards Safe from the Start through the joint efforts of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State in Fiscal Year 2022, building on top of more than $167 million from 2013 to 2021 to strengthen support for survivors in emergencies.

In early 2021, USAID and the Department of State reflected on the significant progress made by Safe from the Start and developed a more ambitious framework. The result, Safe from the Start ReVisioned, is a bold step forward. While Safe from the Start contributed to significant progress, the humanitarian system still does not consistently prioritize or resource gender-based violence programming as an essential immediate response to all emergencies. Safe from the Start ReVisioned builds on the success of the original initiative and outlines new, more ambitious goals to realize a systematic shift in humanitarian response architecture centered around women and girls.

Through this updated initiative, the United States recommits to leading the global community in responding to the needs of women and girls, in all their diversity, from the very start of every conflict or disaster.

USAID Announces Safe From The Start Revisioned Initiative To Prevent And Respond To Gender-Based Violence In Emergencies

United States Agency for International Development
Press Release
December 6, 2022

Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the U.S. Department of State launched Safe from the Start ReVisioned, an initiative that focuses on improving and expanding protection services for women and girls from the start of every conflict or disaster. Because crises like natural disasters or conflicts exacerbate conditions of inequality, they disproportionately impact women and girls. Support systems that are supposed to keep them safe – like families, communities, and governments – can fall apart in an emergency, drastically increasing the risks of gender-based violence (GBV) and making it hard to find desperately needed medical care or the services of social workers and counselors.

Safe from the Start ReVisioned demonstrates the United States’ commitment to advance a gender-transformative approach in humanitarian response that promotes women’s leadership, prioritizes support and advocacy for GBV prevention and survivor-centered response programming, and shifts funding, influence, and decision-making power to women and girls within humanitarian response systems.

The overarching goal of this initiative is to better prevent and respond to the many forms of GBV that become magnified in emergencies, such as intimate partner violence, child marriage, and sexual violence. To do so, it calls on the global community to not only improve, but change, conventional humanitarian response by putting women and girls at the center of these efforts, as leaders and key stakeholders.  

The original Safe from the Start initiative, which was launched in 2013, helped draw global attention to GBV programming as an essential, life-saving intervention from the onset of every humanitarian response. In early 2021, USAID and the State Department reflected on the significant progress made by Safe from the Start and developed a more ambitious framework. The result – Safe from the Start ReVisioned – is a new, even bolder step forward.   

Safe from the Start ReVisioned focuses on improving and expanding humanitarian protection services for women and girls, such as GBV case management, psychosocial support, safe spaces, and peer support networks. Since women and girls often lead the recovery of their communities as front-line responders, experts, and service providers, it also emphasizes the need to shift power to crisis-affected women and recognize them as experts in their own safety and as leaders in their communities. Through this program, USAID and the State Department recommit to leading the global community in responding to the needs of women and girls, in all their diversity, from the very start of every conflict or disaster.

For the latest updates please visit: Safe from the Start ReVisioned

Remarks at the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities Event

Ambassador Chris Lu
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
New York, New York
December 5, 2022

AS DELIVERED

I’m here today as one of the Co-Chairs of the Accessibility Steering Committee, but I’m also here as the former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, where one of my priorities was increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

First, let me thank all the speakers for their insightful presentations. As many of today’s speakers have highlighted, innovative solutions are critical to removing roadblocks to accessibility and inclusion. And technology is one of those solutions.

In the workplace, assistive technology can be transformative in creating real economic opportunities for employees. Technology can also be very affordable. So, we need to do more to encourage its implementation, and we need to do more to adopt best practices already used by the private sector. Because, as you’ve just heard, the world’s most innovative companies know that accessibility isn’t just the moral thing to do. It’s also good for the bottom line.

Even as we mark the progress we’ve made in the area of accessibility, we also need to take stock of the obstacles that remain. And we need to acknowledge when we have fallen short.

In the U.S., despite more than 30 years of experience with the Americans with Disabilities Act, we still have much more work to do. When it comes to economic opportunities, Americans with disabilities are unemployed at more than twice the rate of people without disabilities. And just one-third of Americans with a disability are either in the labor force or seeking employment. In the richest country in the world, two-thirds of people with a disability are being left on the sidelines.

In the U.S., we’ve made great progress in improving physical accessibility in our communities and our buildings. But just try navigating New York City’s sidewalks or streets or taking the subway, and you’ll get a sense of the immense challenges that still face someone with physical impairments.

We also need to acknowledge the work that still needs to be done at the United Nations.

During my time as Co-Chair of the Accessibility Steering Committee, I’ve met with many delegates and UN staff, including several who have spoken at this event, about the obstacles they face every day in trying to do their jobs. They’ve been frank in telling me that too often, the words in the resolutions we pass at the UN don’t match their experiences working in this institution.

Physical accessibly impediments still plague UN offices, including here at headquarters. I applaud the Secretariat for finally creating an accessible entrance to the UN building for people in wheelchairs. I tried it out last week to make sure it works. It does. But let’s remember: just entering the UN building isn’t enough to achieve full inclusion.

Wheelchair users speaking in the General Assembly Hall aren’t able to do so behind the rostrum. Delegates who try to navigate this building’s hallways and corridors face challenges if they are visually impaired. And there continue to remain too many documents, materials and digital platforms that aren’t fully accessible to people with visual and hearing impairments.

UN staff face an additional set of challenges. When I recently met with UN employees with disabilities, they told me about the difficulties in getting their accommodation requests approved. They also told me that more needs to be done to recruit, retain, and promote employees with disabilities, especially at senior levels.

As we’ve heard several times today, a central principle of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is “nothing about us without us.” To truly address the accessibility challenge, the UN needs to listen more to the staff and delegates who work here. I hope discussions like this happen every day, not just once a year.

Accessibility and inclusion aren’t just the right thing to do. They’re the smart thing to do. Because we won’t be able to solve the serious global challenges of the 21st century, unless the UN creates a supportive environment that leaves no one on the sidelines. Thank you.

###

Administrator Samantha Power’s Meeting With Jay Koh, Co-Founder And Managing Director, Lightsmith Group

United States Agency for International Development
Readout
December 5, 2022

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Jessica Jennings:‎

Today, Administrator Samantha Power met with Jay Koh, Co-Founder and Managing Director of The Lightsmith Group, LLC, a private equity and venture capital firm that addresses critical social needs, to discuss support for private investment in climate adaptation and resilience in developing countries. 

Administrator Power emphasized the PREPARE Call to Action(link is external), spearheaded by USAID and the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, that is attracting new, significant commitments from private companies to invest in climate resilience in partner countries. 

Administrator Power and Mr. Koh discussed Lightsmith Group’s approach to climate financing, innovation, and entrepreneurship to build climate adaptation and resilience, including Climate Resilience and Adaptation Finance and Technology-Transfer (CRAFT) and the CRAFT Technical Assistance Facility, which was launched last year with support from the Department of State. 

USDA Launches New Virtual Nutrition Center of Excellence

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Press Release
December 5, 2022

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced its new Agricultural Science Center of Excellence for Nutrition and Diet for Better Health (ASCEND for Better Health) in support of President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot effort to end cancer as we know it.

This new virtual center will accelerate research on diet-related chronic diseases, including cancer. A long-term goal of the center is to translate research into impactful solutions that improve public health and wellbeing, particularly in underserved communities.

“ASCEND will bring together scientists, partner organizations, and communities to develop and deliver science-based solutions that improve the health and well-being of all Americans, particularly in underserved communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The virtual center will connect existing resources, including people and programs, to leverage expertise and increase coordination and cooperation.”

USDA is enhancing its research focus on precision nutrition science to allow us to better understand the needs of underserved communities. This research complements our programmatic efforts to advance food and nutrition security – which means consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe and affordable foods essential to optimal health and well-being.

As part of today’s announcement, USDA convened a panel of experts that discussed the role that nutrition plays in improving overall health and reducing risks for diet-related chronic diseases.

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, 30-50% of all cancer cases are preventable by following a healthy diet and lifestyle. USDA is applying an equity lens to our ongoing and new research as we work to understand the connections between diet and diseases like cancer across different populations.

This effort delivers on a commitment made in the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030 – all while reducing disparities. The National Strategy was released in conjunction with the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in over 50 years, hosted by President Biden on September 28, 2022.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean-energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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