December 1, 2022

US continues to strengthen ties with Africa with focus on Ethiopia, COP27 in Egypt and crimes against journalists

With Spokesperson Ned Price looking on, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry addresses reporters at the Daily Press Briefing at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on November 2, 2022. [State Department photo by Freddie Everett/
With Spokesperson Ned Price looking on, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry addresses reporters at the Daily Press Briefing at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on November 2, 2022. [State Department photo by Freddie Everett/

The United States continued to strengthen ties and and expand interactions with Africa on Wednesday, focusing on the outcome of peace talks between the federal government of Ethiopia and Tigrayan authorities and delving into climate change ahead of COP27 in Egypt.

The Biden administration also devoted time to crimes against journalists around the world, including those in Africa.

On Ethiopia, the administration welcomed the truce signed by Ethiopian warring parties and commended those who made it possible, including the African Union and the United Nations.

Below are some statements issued across US government agencies on Wednesday.

On the African Union-led Peace Talks

Press Statement
Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
November 2, 2022

We welcome the momentous step taken in Pretoria today to advance the African Union’s campaign to “silence the guns” with the signing of a cessation of hostilities between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. We commend the parties for taking this initial step to agree to end the fighting and continue dialogue to resolve outstanding issues to consolidate peace and bring an end to almost two years of conflict. We welcome the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance and the protection of civilians that should result from implementation of this agreement.

The United States commends AU Commission Chairman Faki for his leadership as well as the extraordinary efforts of AU High Representative Obasanjo, former South African Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka, and former Kenyan President Kenyatta, whose facilitation led to this significant step toward peace. We also commend South Africa for generously hosting the talks.

The United States remains a committed partner to this AU-led process and to our collaboration with the UN, IGAD, and other regional and international partners to support implementation of today’s agreement. We welcome the statement of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy expressing gratitude to the AU and share our support for his desire for an enhanced partnership to support reconstruction and development for all communities in northern Ethiopia affected by the conflict.

Secretary Blinken’s Call with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor

Department Press Briefing November 2, 2022

Department Press Briefing
Ned Price, Department Spokesperson
Washington, D.C.
November 2, 2022

For full text of this briefing, covering COP27; Ethiopia and Crimes Against Journalists, please follow this link.

U.S. Delegation to the 2022 UN Climate Conference (COP27)

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
November 2, 2022

From November 6-18, 2022, senior U.S. officials from over 16 agencies and organizations will travel to Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, to advance climate ambition and ensure a strong outcome at the 2022 UN Climate Conference (COP27).

The U.S. delegation will be led by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry. Other senior U.S. officials include:

Alice Albright, CEO, Millennium Challenge Corporation

Antony Blinken, Secretary of State

Brian Deese, Director, National Economic Council

Enoh Ebong, Director, U.S. Trade and Development Agency

Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Energy

Reta Jo Lewis, President & Chair, Export-Import Bank of the United States

Brenda Mallory, Chair, Council on Environmental Quality

Scott Nathan, CEO, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation

John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation

Samantha Power, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development

Michael Regan, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Rick Spinrad, Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor

Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture

Ali Zaidi, White House National Climate Advisor

For media inquiries, please contact ClimateComms@state.gov.

Assistant Secretary Medina’s Travel to Israel and Egypt

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
November 2, 2022

Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources Monica P. Medina will travel to Tel Aviv, Israel, from November 3-5 as part of U.S.-Israel collaboration and knowledge-sharing on water reuse issues. While in Israel, she will meet with government officials and nongovernmental organizations and visit U.S.-supported water projects.

On November 6, Assistant Secretary Medina will travel to Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, to join the United States delegation to the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27). While at COP27, Assistant Secretary Medina will focus on the intersections between the climate, biodiversity, and water scarcity crises. Along with head of delegation Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, she will work to advance climate ambition, strengthen climate resilience, and ensure a strong outcome from COP27. For media inquiries, please contact OES-PA-DG@state.gov.

The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

Press Statement
Ned Price, Department Spokesperson
November 2, 2022

A free and independent press plays a critical role in promoting democracy and shining a light on developments around the world – whether daunting or hopeful. Journalists are the bedrock of an independent press, providing the public with facts and holding governments to account, often while facing danger and adversity. On International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, we reiterate our calls for justice for brave journalists across the globe.

Since 1992, over 1,500 journalists and media workers have been killed in pursuit of information, with most of these cases remaining judicially unresolved. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 294 journalists were languishing in jail for doing their work as of last December. Increasingly, journalists face threats and attacks online, where identifying and holding to account the perpetrator can be difficult. Women journalists are disproportionately targeted by online harassment and abuse, which compounds the forms of violence they experience offline. Per a UNESCO survey, 73 percent of women journalists have been harassed online due to their work. We have also seen an increase in governments reaching beyond their borders through misuse of digital surveillance tools that track journalists’ communications and whereabouts. Digital surveillance and online threats can fuel offline threats and violence, ultimately constraining journalists’ ability to report accurate information.

The UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists was established 10 years ago as a multi-stakeholder approach to protect journalists through legislation, mechanisms, and guides aimed at creating a secure and just environment for media. Despite these efforts, the international community must continue to take a stand against physical attacks, intimidation lawsuits, transnational repression, and regulatory pressures that silence media—online and offline.

Today, the United States renews our commitment to an open and free press around the world. We call on other governments to join us in condemning crimes against journalists and holding accountable those who attack press freedom.

Statement by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 2, 2022

AS DELIVERED

Every day, journalists around the world take great risk to report the truth, shine a light on wrongdoing, and counter disinformation. A vibrant democracy requires a free press that holds political leaders accountable. Where media freedom is under pressure or non-existent, democracy is threatened or altogether absent.

In many countries in the world, governments are resorting to extreme measures to silence journalists through threats and harassment, physical violence and torture, arrests and enforced disappearances, and sometimes even murder.

Iranian journalist Niloofar Hamedi, who broke the story of Masha Amini’s death, remains without criminal charges in solitary confinement in Evin Prison. In Russia-occupied Crimea, civil rights defender and journalist Irina Danilovych and reporter Vladyslav Yesypenko have faced arrest and abuse by Russia’s Federal Security Service. They are just two of the many journalists in Crimea wrongfully charged with a crime for speaking out and telling the truth about Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

The United States remains deeply concerned about the targeted threats, violence, and harassment of journalists in many places around the world. Independent media are essential to democracy and play a crucial role in the free exchange of information and ideas, combatting corruption, and making government more accountable and transparent.

The United States condemns harassment and violence against journalists. This day is a reminder of the dangers journalists face and of the imperative to hold those who commit crimes against them accountable.

###

Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at the UN Security Council Briefing by the High Commissioner for Refugees

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 2, 2022

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. President. Let me start by thanking Gabon for your excellent presidency last month, and while I thought that you had set a record, I understand you didn’t set a record, but it felt like a record, and we really appreciate the spirit of inclusion you brought to the Council. We know that we kept you busy, but you met the challenge. Also, let me welcome the start of Ghana’s presidency. The topic with which we start today is an important one. Thank you, High Commissioner Grandi, for your briefing. I appreciate your focusing on the increasing refugee crises and the needs that you have presented to us today.

In this regard, the United States and Ireland are hopeful members of this Council will support a proposal that we have put on the table, to create a standardized humanitarian carve-out for actors who are under sanction regimes, so that organizations like UNHCR will benefit.

For the United States, our support for the humanitarian work of UNHCR and its partners is unshakeable. The United States continues to proudly be the world’s leading donor to UNHCR. And we call on our fellow Member States to step up and further fund UNHCR in this time of desperate need. And we especially call on those countries who have a record of creating refugee crises to do more. If you caused it, you should pay for it.

Right now, UNHCR truly needs our help. You heard the appeal from the High Commissioner. The number of refugees and forcibly displaced people grew dramatically this year, from 90 million to over 103 million – 103 million. The main reason of course is Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia has driven more than 14 million people from their homes as we heard from the High Commissioner this morning. It has exacerbated the global food security crisis. You combine that with ongoing conflicts and unprecedented climatic events, it’s no wonder farmers and families are fleeing their lands and homes. Russia is weaponizing winter. Its attacks against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure will be life threatening for the Ukrainian people, especially during the cold winter months.

The United States is working to ensure that our humanitarian partners are adequately resourced to help the government with the winterization efforts. And we commend our European allies and partners for their generosity in hosting approximately seven million displaced Ukrainian citizens and others fleeing Russian aggression.

But I also want to commend Kenya. We have seen the long-term commitment that Kenya has made to hosting refugees in their country. I think the number is close to, if not over, 500,000 right now. I started working on refugee issues in Kenya as a refugee coordinator in 1994, and many of those refugees are still in Kenya today. So again, thank you, Kenya for being a great host to refugees.

On Ukraine, we’re supporting Ukrainians at home and abroad. In April, we launched Uniting for Ukraine, a process for Ukrainians and their immediate relatives to seek humanitarian parole in the United States. Through that program and other legal pathways, the United States has provided refuge for over 190,000 Ukrainians.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of speaking to some of them in Chicago. And I met a woman and her teenage son who had fled Kharkiv. They spoke in harrowing detail of hiding in the basement of their apartment during shelling, the struggle to find food, and fears for their relatives and their neighbors’ survival. But they also told me that since arriving in the United States, they had found hope. They’ve been welcomed warmly in their new community. And they are grateful to all the friends, contacts, and organizations who’ve helped them settle and begin to heal.

Around the world, refugees deserve that same love, attention, care, and support.

In Somalia, an unprecedented drought has displaced nearly one million people this year. Famine is likely unless the international community including the UN system steps up. The United States acted early to address this crisis, providing over $850 million this year in assistance to Somalia as part of our efforts to address the Horn of Africa drought. And we call on other donors to increase their contributions as well. The UN humanitarian agencies family should act now and scale up its response. We do not want to have any regrets on this situation.

The drought and conflict-affected communities in Ethiopia and Kenya also face catastrophic food insecurity, and impossible choices to cope with scarcity. Parents starve so their children may eat. And as of August, almost five million children are acutely malnourished in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, including more than 1.4 million who are severely malnourished.

The recent resumption of violence in northern Ethiopia has exacerbated one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Humanitarians have had to pull back and suspend operations and report a severe shortage of cash, fuel, and essential relief commodities for the more than nine million Ethiopians in need. The supply of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food is completely depleted, leaving the most vulnerable children suffering from the most severe form of malnutrition without this essential lifeline. The United States has provided more than $688 million in support for the northern Ethiopia humanitarian response over the last fiscal year, but needs are extreme and they’re still growing.

For the desperate plight of the Syrian people, we are grateful to Türkiye, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt, for continuing to provide safe haven to nearly six million refugees from Syria. We are alarmed by credible reports that refugees returning to Syria face torture, arbitrary detention, and forced disappearance. The truth is conditions inside Syria are not safe for large-scale refugee returns. We urge the international community to join us in maintaining support to Syrians and the communities which host them. We also urge this Council to put politics aside, as we heard from the High Commissioner, and do the right thing by extending the UN cross-border aid mandate in January when it expires. Humanitarian needs in Syria are higher today than ever before. The UN and its partners cannot meet those needs without continued cross-border access.

Venezuelan refugees and migrants also need our continued support. Nearly six million Venezuelans have fled to over a dozen countries in the region. Colombia, which currently hosts more than 2.4 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants, has approved more than 1.6 million applications for temporary protected status. And we commend Colombia and others in the region for doing their part. For our part, we have provided nearly $2.7 billion in assistance for the Venezuelan regional crisis in the past five years, and we will continue to take this issue seriously.

While each of these situations around the world is unique, they share common themes: Hunger, conflict, and climate are displacing already vulnerable people. To that end, we welcome UNHCR’s ambitious new initiative to improve accountability to crisis-affected individuals and communities. The initiative rightly emphasizes the need to bring successful, innovative accountability approaches to scale, especially new digital tools for enhancing community feedback. The United States looks forward to the success of this initiative and learning more about how states can support it.

And in the meantime, we are committed to the vision of the Global Compact for Migration. And we are committed to helping refugees everywhere. Because refugees are the definition of brave. They are extraordinary. And they deserve our unending support.

Thank you, Mr. President.

###

For press releases and information regarding events in the Ukraine, please go to: https://www.state.gov/united-with-ukraine/

For all State Department press releases and statements, please go to: https://www.state.gov/press-releases/

Explanation of Vote Delivered by Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield on a UN Security Council Resolution Proposed by Russia on Alleged Bioweapons in Ukraine

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 2, 2022

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States voted against this resolution because it is based on disinformation, dishonesty, bad faith, and a total lack of respect for this body. The Biological Weapons Convention is important. It addresses the grave threat posed by biological weapons. The United States takes its responsibility seriously, and fully complies with and fulfills its obligations under the BWC. That includes assisting partners around the world to strengthen global health security and reduce the impact of infectious diseases on their societies.

Colleagues, we cannot allow such lifesaving cooperation to be stigmatized. Russia tried, and failed, to claim that we had violated the BWC at the Article 5 meeting in Geneva this past September. Russia failed to provide any credible evidence to support these false allegations. Despite Russia’s abuse of the process, and precisely because we respect the BWC and its provisions, the United States and Ukraine went through Russia’s allegations in Geneva, point by point, and debunked every single one.

Russia knows our Cooperative Threat Reduction efforts are not for military purposes. We know Russia knows this, because for nearly two decades, Russia participated in this very kind of cooperation with us, including on biological threats. The truth is that Russia’s questions are not sincere, and Russia is not interested in our answers.

Russia said this is a milestone. It is. It is a milestone for Russia’s deception and lies. And the world sees it. An overwhelming number of the States Parties that spoke at the Geneva meeting considered that the issues raised by Russia were unsubstantiated and had been conclusively addressed. But that wasn’t enough for Russia.

Instead, when Russia failed in Geneva, it inappropriately raised the same false claims here, abusing its position and abusing us, and they should not be surprised or disappointed by what happened here today. Russia showed zero appreciation for the precedent it has set in invoking Article VI of the BWC for the first time in the Convention’s history. And as you can see from the vote today, no one is buying it except China.

I will not devote any more time, energy, or resources to these lies from Russia. Nor should the rest of the Security Council. Not while troops still occupy Ukrainian territory. And not while Russian forces continue to attack Ukrainian civilians and commit war crimes. Instead of letting Russia waste our time, we should focus on the truth and the horrors Russia has inflicted upon the Ukrainian people.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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