USAID Administrator Mark Green Delivers Remarks at the High-Level Event on Famine Prevention and Response

For Immediate Release

Thursday, September 21, 2017
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email: | Twitter: @USAID

United Nations Headquarters
New York City, New York

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: As we gather today, we are confronted by an unprecedented food security crisis. Right now we are responding to over 20 million people in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. Those countries alone face severe hunger or starvation. In response to this week, the United States is reaffirming our role as the world's single largest humanitarian donor.

We remain deeply committed to combating hunger and helping the world's more vulnerable people. We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with people in their hour of need. As disaster or a crisis strikes we will continue to be there. That's why today I'm announcing that the United States is pledging an additional $575 million in humanitarian assistance to the people of Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen.

This new funding will provide emergency food, safe drinking water, shelter, health services, and protection to the millions of people affected by food insecurity and conflict in those countries. America has now contributed nearly 2.5 billion in humanitarian assistance this fiscal year. We also call on other donors to ramp up their humanitarian support. And I associate myself with a colleague from the Netherlands with their generous pledge.

But while this assistance is truly life-saving let's be clear: as the Secretary General so eloquently put it, humanitarian assistance alone will not solve these problems. These famines are man-made. They are unnecessary. They were preventable and avoidable. And if we accept them as the new normal, shame on us.

Some are the result of inhuman attacks by terrorist elements. Boko Haram and ISIS, West Africa, in northern Nigeria as we just heard. Some had emerged from conflict that forces families to flee. Others as a result of weak governance and political systems that are not citizen-centered. Humanitarian assistance alone will do little else than treat these wounds.

I agree with my colleague from the ICRC. We must hold world leaders accountable who attack or fail to protect humanitarian workers. We must demand access to communities for humanitarian access, and we must put the full weight of this body behind that demand. Because if we won't, who will?

Finally, and in a very different and more uplifting light, we must always respect human dignity and the instinctive need of every human being to take care of him or herself and their family. We need to couple humanitarian assistance, as so many have said, with tools and technology resources and training, that give people a chance to live independently. And we must also find ways to help community leaders do the same to bolster resilience.

I am honored to stand with so many great humanitarian leaders here. I am humbled by what you have done and what you have sought to do. We stand with you. At the same time, we challenge you and ourselves to make these preventable crises prevented. Thank you.