U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green's Remarks at a Breaking the Cycle Between Conflict and Hunger Event

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email: press@usaid.gov

 
United Nations
New York, New York
September 25, 2018

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Thank you, and I want to thank Ambassador Haley for inviting me here this evening, and, of course, to the organizers and our co-hosts for this very important session on this very important topic. The U.S. sees the relationship between conflict and global hunger as a truly urgent priority requiring immediate and collective action. Conflict-related hunger is one of the most visible manifestations of human suffering emerging from war and crisis.

What makes suffering nearly unprecedented is its source. More than 50 percent of those experiencing hunger around the world today - some 74 million people - do so because of man-made, regime-driven disasters. In other words, this suffering is preventable, and thus all the more tragic.

Many billions of dollars have been generously provided to alleviate global hunger. But they are being robbed of their full value by crisis, conflict, and poor governance. So, not just terrorism, but corruption and poor governance, as well. The Agency that I am privileged to lead, USAID, delivered more than three billion dollars of food assistance to 64 million people across 50 countries last year alone.

American taxpayers generously offered this assistance to ease immediate suffering as well as to lay a foundation for long-term resilience -- an ideal to which all people aspire. Yet disaster, not natural disaster, like a drought or a flood, but man-made disaster in the form of inhumane, authoritarian governance and willful disregard of the laws of war, are destroying any chances that these purposes will actually be met.

Generosity cannot overcome self-centered political leadership. It cannot overcome political cowardice, corruption, or greed. It cannot overcome governments that disregard the needs of their people. When leaders and regimes fail to act, we must identify new political solutions to address crisis-driven hunger, because the costs of inaction, we all agree, are simply too grave.

This is clear in Yemen, where nearly 18 million people are at risk of hunger and starvation. The U.S. remains committed to helping the Yemeni people, but the parties must do more to protect civilians, critical infrastructure, and enable the timely delivery of life-saving aid. It's also clear in South Sudan. Not only are there more than 7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, but it remains one of the deadliest countries in the world for humanitarian aid workers simply trying to do their jobs. All the parties to the conflict are culpable, all the parties to the conflict are guilty, have all failed themselves, their people, and humanity.

While some will argue that the challenges caused by conflicts like Yemen and South Sudan are too complex, too deeply ingrained for lasting solutions anytime soon, that does not excuse us from our responsibility to act. From our responsibility to force steps in a new direction. We may not have all the answers, but we clearly know what has not worked: the status quo.

On May 24, 2018, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2417, which condemned the use of civilian starvation as a weapon of war. The resolution emphasizes the outsized burden born by civilians in today's conflicts, and it articulates well, the Council's responsibility to address this challenge. Support for this resolution demonstrates the Security Council's collective insistence that warring parties must adhere to international law and allow humanitarian access, including, of course, delivery of food assistance to conflict zones.

It also reflects America's and the wider council's resolve to take action while outlining the tools we have at our disposal to do so immediately. We have a responsibility to address these issues and to enforce this resolution because of the breathtaking level of human suffering that conflict-driven hunger has caused. If we are honest with ourselves and our taxpayers, we know that merely expanding humanitarian assistance will not address the issues of hunger caused by war and man-made disaster.

The U.S. believes the Security Council must step forward and help. An international crisis requires an international response. This demand begins with the parties who fail to ease the suffering of innocent citizens. Even wars have rules, and conflict-related hunger is too often the result of those rules being broken.

We each here, each of us here, represent humane, compassionate people, but true compassion requires more than merely providing money. It requires us to use our collective influence to demand concrete actions that will end the cycles of misery. The global hunger crisis is hopeless only if we do nothing. There are steps that we can take, beginning with the enforcement of Resolution 2417. Thank you again for having me here this evening.

Last updated: October 08, 2019

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