USAID Administrator Mark Green with Press

Khartoum, Sudan

For Immediate Release

Monday, August 28, 2017
Office of Press Relations

QUESTION:  So, we were hoping you could maybe talk a little bit more about the centrality of sanctions in humanitarian aid since you mentioned it right off of the top, you know?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Well, of course, humanitarian access is one of the tracks in a five-track plan. And so, while naturally we're concerned about all the tracks, the U.S. in particular is looking at the humanitarian track. And stressing the importance of better humanitarian access. And so that is a good part of what we're doing here in our conversations today.

I'll be meeting tomorrow with community religious leaders. I've met with our partners today -- obviously up in El Fasher -- U.N. partners, and other NGOs. Of course, we also saw them at the camp itself.  

So, all of these discussions are data points. I'll be gathering information and carrying it back to Washington and reaching out to the Secretary to tell him what we see and hear.

QUESTION:  So what you saw and what you heard today, did that leave you encouraged that things are looking better?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  It's interesting. One thing that I heard before I came, and I've continued to hear while I'm here, is that there has been progress made on all tracks. Nobody's really disputing that. And the question, of course, is not whether or not there's been progress, but whether or not in the eyes of Secretary Tillerson and the White House, progress in the five-track plan.  

But again, in particular, looking at the humanitarian access, I think it's fair to say that there has been progress. There are still questions. And we'll be continuing to talk with our partners to learn more about it, but certainly there has been progress particularly in recent weeks.

QUESTION:  I mean, you spoke about the sustainable progress for something that's going to hold right through once sanctions are lifted and keep going, right?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  You mean in terms of what we saw in the camp?

QUESTION:  Well, I don't know if the camp is really the gauge of preventing exits, right?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  No. Well, it's one of the gauges.

QUESTION:  It's one of the gauges that tells you the people can't want to go home yet or fear for their homes, so.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  That's true. You're right, and we're totally on the same page.And I do. There's a whole other set of lessons I think that I'm looking at and learning, and that is as to humanitarian conditions and what the future holds for these individuals in the camp. And so, I plan on listening and learning more there as well. I think we'll also get some frame of reference by what we see in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is, of course, a country that has had more than its share of humanitarian crises, and they've been making real progress in some areas in doing some resilience building. And that's, in particular, something about which … I want to look.

Back to the question of humanitarian access, certainly. This is not a matter of whether things look perfect on the date the decision is made. It's whether or not long-lasting changes have been made that the Administration looks to and believes in fact indicate a significant change in the government here. So, you're right, it's not meant to be a one-off or a single moment, a snapshot, but instead the product of real change.

I think it's also clear that the U.S. Government values its relationship with Sudan. I think Sudan is a country that has enormous potential, and I think it's a country that the U.S. is hoping to have a closer and stronger relationship with. I think what we are talking about -- in terms of the five-track plan -- presents an opportunity for a new and closer relationship in the future. That's what I think makes this so very important.

I think also the Government of Sudan clearly values it. I don't think there's any doubt that the Government of Sudan seeks a stronger and closer relationship with the U.S. Again, I think that's why this presents an opportunity.

QUESTION:  Are you at all concerned that they may make access available now that backslide after sanctions would be lifted permanently?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Well, those are certainly questions that inevitably get raised.  And those are questions that we, I'm sure, are asking the government. And I'll have my chance to meet with representatives of the government -- this is a dialogue. And I think that those are questions that will naturally come up.

QUESTION:  So we were wondering what was your aim of asking the different groups those specific questions of yours? What are you going to do? Where do you see yourself, you know, in five years' time, and stuff?

QUESTION:  What will it take to get for you to go home and how can the U.S. help you get there? Those seem to be, I think that's how you phrased. Those are the two questions you wanted answers to. And you didn't seem to be getting them.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Well, we tried. Well, you know, we have -- early on when I reached USAID, one of the realizations that really struck me is the sheer volume of humanitarian need and the impacts of the movements of peoples internally, across borders. It's unprecedented, certainly since World War II. These are significant forces in the world. And so, as we think about how we foster a brighter future, and more secure and stable future, I think it is important that we -- for displaced people -- begin to look at what the future could hold. No human being wants or should want to have their future be in the single camp or in that kind of living arrangement. Naturally, we all want a brighter future, we want opportunities for our kids.

And so, part of what I was getting at was trying to, for the purposes of this government, understand they too would love to see the IDPs return home and not be in camps, but trying to get at what those factors are that are keeping people from returning. And we heard security, we heard intercommunal disputes, potentially over land. I think there are also questions about livelihood along the curve. I think these are all important questions for us to ask. And that's what I was trying to get at in posing those questions to them, because for an agency like USAID, those are questions we should ask. And I think we should be thinking about, you know, what it would take to help tackle those conditions so people can leave the camps and return to a path of development that we all aspire to. But I'll keep asking those questions.

QUESTION:  Do you think Sudan's at sort of a pivotal point after all these years of conflict that now in fact some of these people may be--

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Be careful of saying a pivotal point since I think we've seen pivotal points unfortunately many a time, but I think what you are getting at, I think you're right. I think, again, the five-track plan and how this works its way out and the potential for a new, closer relationship could be a significant change in the lives of these individuals, but also the lives of the people of Sudan across the country. So, it is an important moment.

QUESTION: So how do you think you could have a relationship with Bashir when he's delaying this negotiation -- he's delaying an ICC warrant for him?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Well as you know, the sanctions about which we're talking are but one set of sanctions.

QUESTION: No, I know. There's more. So that's why I'm wondering. How can you have a relationship of trust with somebody who's got that stuff hanging over him brought to him mainly by the United States?  And so, I mean, how do you even forge that?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Well, I guess what I would say is, at this point in time, we're engaging -- the U.S. Government is engaging in conversations to see what is possible. And I think that's really all that these conversations are really about. I think we will all know more about what is possible come August, or sorry, October. So, no one is pretending or suggesting that there's a magic wand and that everything changes on October 2nd, or October 12th. What I will say is I think we will have a much greater, a much more detailed picture about the possibilities and what a future relationship might be able to look like.

QUESTION:  Can I put it where, one moment, I'm having a little flashback?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  It's just like I told you....

QUESTION:  Are you -- I mean, I'm just trying to split the picture about how your strategies were thought through. I mean, we've just begun the strategies. Is it possible that if you lift sanctions the development occurs naturally? The development of people, institutions, given budget cuts -- I might just put that out there -- and other stuff. So, would that just come along with the lifting of sanctions?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Well, I think with the lifting of sanctions, it changes the dynamics.  I wouldn't say that it would make it go away. All of those matters that we heard raised today -- matters of land, title, and tenure, and intercommunal conflicts -- it wouldn't overnight change the livelihood prospects of people who have been in camps since 2004. Those things don't change overnight. But I think it also creates opportunity. Again, there are other sanctions and other hurdles, but it creates the possibility of a more conventional development partnership in the future. Again, we're not there. We're a ways off. But it's important because it begins to create the outlines of what can be done. So that's what makes this particular phase so important.

MR. MCCLESKEY: Just a couple more questions because you got this call.

QUESTION: Okay, I mean, I just wanted to go back to the idea that we'll know more about what's possible. You know, this is a moment when the Government of Sudan is seeking a closer, stronger relationship with the U.S. Are you basically using sanctions as a leverage to get to more people since these sanctions were imposed in an era when there was less of an attempt to configure them so that they didn't hurt individuals?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  You know, I'm not. From my perspective, where I sit, that's actually not the set of issues that I'm looking at. First off, as you can imagine, my most immediate concern is trying to measure such things as humanitarian access. That's of particular interest to USAID, also from the perspective of the broader U.S. Government head, in particular what our feedback is being sought over.  Beyond that, I would say that the Government of Sudan's interest in trying to proceed to meet the conditions of the five tracks indicates in a very tangible way their interest in closer ties, and hopefully making future economic and development progress. So that's how I look at it. I think this, as I said, will tell us a lot more about the possibilities.

QUESTION:  Do you want to go?

QUESTION:  Oh. Well, what is it specifically that you think could change the game for you as far as lifting of sanctions? Is there something specific you're looking at or looking for? I mean, humanitarian aid can be very broad. But is there anything specifically? Are you looking at any areas that have opened recently and are staying opened?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Again, the track that is most relevant for USAID is humanitarian access, which is why I met with those groups today and will continue to talk with them. Obviously, the team's been talking to them, and will continue to talk with them. Getting constant feedback on their ability to have access to humanitarian areas and compliance with international standards of law. There are, as you know, all kinds of ways of restricting access.  There's the obvious physical restriction. There's the paperwork requirements that keep people at bay. There is the application for access, which never ever, ever, seems to get actually responded to. So, all of those are part of humanitarian access. And all of those are elements that we're taking a close look at. That's why we're having the conversations with the community groups, asking them for their particular experiences.  

You know, Sudan is hardly the only place that has used regulatory schemes, illegal schemes, and permitting schemes to darken the enabling environment for humanitarian groups and other NGOs. But in this case, given the very obvious needs here and the fact that they are -- they being the Government of Sudan -- are engaged in this dialogue with an interest to trying to achieve certain things -- we think it's a great opportunity.  

MR. MCCLESKEY:  Last question.

QUESTION:  I'm all done.

MR. MCCLESKEY:  You guys all set for the next stop?

QUESTION:  With regards to briefing at the U.N., where the spokesman who was a wise man, rather than a very talkative and all about promoting, said basically that they thought that the hostilities that they'd been -- that they'd eased a lot. And that it was right for the U.N. to what did he call it -- to basically shrink, you know, over there. But you see what happens in the camps and the security situation, and you think to yourself, you know, in places where I've lived and quartered in Angola and Congo, you need the U.N. there to provide that security, in order for these people to go home.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Well, and this is one of the many issues that gets at again some of the types of questions and issues I was trying to raise because God willing they are going to be given an opportunity to go home. But there are a lot of things … that you don’t just open the gate and say, "Cheers, see you later."  Obviously, there are a lot of things that go into that.

QUESTION:  Were you encouraged by the billboards we went through in the past where they were saying, you know, no automatic weapons with the [inaudible]?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  You know I saw them. I didn't know what they were pertaining to.

QUESTION:  They're trying to collect all the weapons, you know. No RPGs.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  We heard reference to that. Not the billboards, but to the campaign. And sure. Doing that in an orderly way, de-escalating, removing arms particularly from militias, these are all factors that go into the possibility for lasting peace and development.

QUESTION:  Just one more question and I need to ...  He also said that he thought that the militia had gone off to Libya was going to be a thorn in the government's side when they came back. That that was something that was potentially a big problem.


QUESTION:  As they came back. And I was -- I had never thought of that. Because the intelligence briefings I've had is that the U.S. is encouraged that Sudan is involved in competing with that fight in Libya, which you never thought when they came back.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Let's hope the whole country can find peace.

QUESTION:  You said they'd been cooperating intelligence-wise basically since 9/11?


QUESTION:  That's a long time to still be on the terrorism list and cooperating with the CIA.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN:  Of course, that's the last position they hope to be in to take on and to tackle because it creates, as you know, real restrictions on development assistance.

MR. MCCLESKEY:  Thank you all.