USAID Administrator Mark Green Delivers Remarks at a Ministerial-Level Event on Iraq "Saving Lives, Protecting Lives and Re-building Lives: Developing a Common Agenda with and for Iraqi People"

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Office of Press Relations
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European Union Mission to the United Nations
New York City, New York

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Thanks to the previous panelists for their remarks.  I am heartened, as I'm sure all of you are, to hear about the work that they're doing -- but more importantly, the great work that the government of Iraq is doing at it seems to recover from so many years of war.

Thank you also to Christos for opening this event.  We had a wonderful conversation this morning.  We tried to remain cheery.  We talked about the fact that our respective friends talk about how the world is on fire and our job is to put the fire out.  But in all honesty, I come here today, and I hear about the way we are putting out the fire.  And there is good news at hand.

Iraq has been a critical partner to the U.S.  Obviously, it has been on the front line  of fighting ISIS for years.  As the minister noted eloquently, the people of Iraq have made tremendous sacrifices in this fight against ISIS.  We all need to applaud them, but we all need to do much more.  

The humanitarian response across Iraq has been massive, and it needs to be.  It is a key part of securing Iraq's better, more hopeful, and brighter future.  As Iraqi and allied forces close in on ISIS, more and more Iraqi citizens are gaining access to life-saving support and a more hopeful path ahead.  

We in America are proud to be the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Iraq, and we will remain committed to supporting the Iraqi people.

As clear evidence of that, today I am announcing $264 million in additional U.S. government humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq.

And this will bring our total support to nearly $1.7 billion since 2014.  This assistance will provide critical water, shelter, health care, and protection to the families and communities that are displaced by ISIS's brutal rule.

Some of the people are returning home to face a host of challenges, as we just heard -- including ongoing violence -- especially violence against vulnerable communities, women and children -- the loss of their homes, and their livelihoods.  It's heart-wrenching.  

America is also committed to helping displaced families return home safely by supporting vital de-mining initiatives.  Many people are confronted with deliberate mines and booby traps in homes and public spaces left by ISIS.  With U.S. and coalition support, more than 10 million square meters have been successfully de-mined to facilitate the safe and voluntary return of Iraqis in areas recently liberated from ISIS.

Humanitarian assistance is crucial to protecting Iraq's most vulnerable people.  However, as administrator, I often say that the goal of our assistance must be to end the need for its existence.  And so, in our work and our support, we are committed to empowering communities such as Iraq to stand on their own two feet.  We envision, as I'm sure you do, an Iraq with a growing and stable economy.  We envision an Iraqi government that provides for the needs of all of its citizens, one with a vibrant civil society that connects people to their leaders.  We want to see an increased capacity to respond, prevent, and recover from future economic and humanitarian crises.  

So, how do we get there? First, there are many vulnerable communities that have basic needs throughout Iraq. America aims to continue empowering the Iraqi government at the state and local level to better identify and respond to these needs, including the needs of ethnic and religious minorities.

I applaud -- we applaud the Iraqi government's initiative to decentralize the delivery of essential services from central ministries to provinces.  This is an important step, we believe, in bringing governance closer to the Iraqi people.  And we believe it will improve the government's ability to identify and to respond to local needs.  It will also, very importantly, build and reinforce trust in government among Iraqis -- which is an essential (inaudible).

Second, the development community must focus on strengthening Iraq's economic outlook. The international community is supporting Iraq's efforts to meet its policy commitments with the IMF -- economic reforms, in line with international and regional standards, specifically including those that increase transparency and accountability.  That too will increase Iraqis' trust, and belief, and support in their government.  These reforms will also encourage Iraqis to diversify their economy, reduce dependency on oil revenue, and create more sustainable sources of employment.

Third, a healthy and vibrant civil society will be crucial to the future of this country.  Civil engagement is at the heart of democratic governance.  Our partners should continue to foster Iraqi civil society and help Iraqi citizens better express their needs and hold their leaders accountable.

In closing, I urge the international community to continue supporting Iraq's path to peace, stability, and prosperity.  I hope to continue our partnership with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people.  Again, I must say to the minister -- as the representative of his government -- we are inspired by the sacrifices that have been made.  We all know there is much more to do, but we will walk on that journey with you.  Thank you.