Congressional Testimony

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Syrian Humanitarian Crisis Four Years Later, No End in Sight

Introduction

Chairman Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member Deutch, Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Bass, and Members of the Subcommittees, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

The Syrian crisis is the largest and most complex humanitarian emergency of our time. The emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has exacerbated an already protracted crisis in Syria, where the Assad regime has waged an unrelenting campaign of bloodshed against its own people for four years.

The humanitarian situation grows more complex every day. There are more than 12.2 million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance— more than half of Syria’s pre-war population, and equal to the combined populations of New York City and Los Angeles. According to the United Nations (UN), Syrians are now the largest refugee population in the world under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. One in five people displaced globally is Syrian.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

In our fight against Ebola, we have seen great suffering, but also scenes of survival and resilience. Patients can beat this disease. The U.S. government in collaboration with our international partners, including many volunteers and NGOs, can beat this disease. To get to zero, we must remain vigilant. This unprecedented epidemic has required a herculean global effort. And we have seen how America’s leadership galvanized a worldwide response from governments, NGOs, and volunteers. Ebola underscores the importance of tackling fragility and extreme poverty in these poor countries. It quickly debilitates weak institutions and systems, wreaking havoc in communities least prepared to fend off the disease. We strive to not only reach our goal of getting to zero Ebola cases in West Africa, but strengthen health systems, enable societies to fend off future threats, and allow those who lost ground to return to a path of prosperity and stability. These efforts are core to USAID’s mission to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies. They are also critical to America’s interests and security at home and abroad.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Forging strong partnerships will be critical to meet the immense challenges and needs ahead in Iraq and Syria. As part of our commitment to ending extreme poverty and promoting resilient, democratic societies, USAID will continue to provide life-saving, needs-based assistance and protect and empower women and minorities, while pushing to secure access to additional populations currently trapped in areas controlled by ISIL. Our hearts are with the thousands of people who remain trapped in unsustainable situations, and we are gravely concerned for the health and safety of these displaced men, women, and children, besieged by acts of violence committed by ISIL, the Syrian regime, and other extremists.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This unprecedented crisis underscores the importance of tackling fragility and extreme poverty. Ebola preys on weak systems, wreaking havoc in communities least prepared to fend off the disease. That is why we must work not only to control the epidemic at its source in West Africa, but to bolster our global health systems. These investments are critical if we are to avoid having future outbreaks that follow a similarly devastating and costly path. This effort is core to USAID’s mission to both end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies that advance our global security and prosperity.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Today, 600 million Africans do not have access to electricity. Hospitals cannot function optimally. Businesses cannot open and children cannot read after dark. Food rots before it makes it to market. But it does not have to be this way. Together with our partners in Congress, Africa, other donor nations, and private businesses, Power Africa is working to greatly increase access to reliable, cleaner energy in Africa.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Today, as you know, the world faces the largest and most-protracted Ebola epidemic in history. This devastating virus has infected more than 14,000 people and killed more than 5,000 people across West Africa. The epidemic has spread through Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone—countries with fragile health and economic systems and recent histories of civil war or political instability. In addition, the Ebola virus has spilled over into three neighboring countries where the response has been swift.

Most of the families that have been affected already live in desperate circumstances, where securing clean water and food is a daily struggle. In Liberia alone, 58 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty with very few assets to help them cope. It is within this context that Ebola has emerged—threatening our global security and economy. It represents a national security priority for the United States and every other nation in the world.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The United States has been combating the Ebola epidemic since the first cases were reported in March, and we have expanded our efforts and increased personnel in the region as the crisis has unfolded. More than 120 specialists from across the U.S. government are on the ground in West Africa to prevent, detect, and stop the spread of this disease. USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team—or DART—to the region to oversee and coordinate the U.S. response, providing logistics, planning, program, and operational support to the affected countries; drawing forth critical assets and resources from several U.S. departments and agencies.

Through a whole-of-government approach, we’re mounting an aggressive U.S. effort to fight this epidemic and have devised a clear strategy with four key pillars to stop this epic crisis: controlling the epidemic; mitigating second-order impacts, including blunting the economic, social, and political tolls; coordinating the U.S. and broader global response; and fortifying global health security infrastructure in the region and beyond.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

We share your concern about the attacks on Christians and other vulnerable populations, who are suffering unimaginable horrors from the systematic violence carried out against them by the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). USAID remains committed to providing assistance to all those in need in Iraq and will hold true to our mission to partner to end extreme poverty and promote resilient democratic societies while advancing our security and prosperity.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

USAID’s targeted response to the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is appropriately an immediate response to the crisis at-hand.  However, there also needs to be longer-term response that reflects the importance of monitoring and diagnosing viral threats that originate in animals. Such a response is critical to ensure future reoccurrences of the virus are contained prior to transfer to humans, where possible. In addition, it’s critical that we build on ongoing health systems strengthening efforts, which help ensure a viral outbreak is contained at the earliest stages through improved access to care, health workforce training, and enhanced communication once diagnosis is made.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two factors that are critical to spurring and maintaining economic growth and stability in developing countries are access to affordable, clean energy and the existence of social and institutional capacity to adapt to, mitigate and recover from shocks and stresses such as economic downturns and the adverse impacts of climate change.  In particular, working with developing countries to help them deal with destabilizing climate change consequences, including water supply shortages, coastal flooding and droughts, is critical.  Such work also protects our current and future development investments.

Today, I will highlight how the lack of clean energy access and the inability to address climate change risks can have a destabilizing effect on a country’s economy, security, and the well-being of its citizens.  I will describe USAID’s efforts to address these challenges and discuss how our work on adaptation to climate change, water security, food security, and sustainable landscapes impacts security.  Much of this work is embodied in USAID’s Climate Change and Development Strategy, which seeks to help developing countries speed their transition to climate resilient, low emission, sustainable economic growth.  Stability and well-being overseas often directly helps ensure U.S. national security. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Africa is a continent on the rise, with growing economies and the youngest population in the world. With fifty percent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 18, there is extraordinary potential for this generation of youth to shape the future of the continent in powerful ways. However, more than 200 million of these children currently live in extreme poverty, over 15 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS, and millions more are affected by conflict and natural disaster.

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Last updated: March 02, 2015

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