USAID and PRM Press Guidance
March 6, 2018
- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced nearly $533 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nijeriya, as well as countries in the Lake Chad region, where millions are facing life-threatening food insecurity and malnutrition as a result of ongoing conflict or prolonged drought.
- With this new funding, the United States is providing emergency food and nutrition assistance, including tens of thousands of tons of in-kind food aid.
- The United States is also supporting safe drinking water, as well as emergency health care and hygiene programs to treat and prevent the spread of disease, and reunification of families separated by conflict. U.S. assistance also includes life-saving medical supplies, improved sanitation, and emergency shelter, and prioritizes programs that protect vulnerable groups.
- The United States is the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance for these crises. We encourage others to increase the share of their funding to meet these growing, urgent needs in Africa.
- While this humanitarian assistance is truly life-saving, the responsibility to provide for their citizens and stop the violence and insecurity that is leading to these crises, particularly in South Sudan, ultimately rests with the parties to the conflicts. The United States calls on the leaders in these countries to prioritize the welfare of their citizens, stop the violence and stop obstructing humanitarian assistance deliveries.
Q: How much has the United States provided for these countries?
- With the funds just announced, the United States is providing nearly $3 billion in humanitarian assistance for the responses for affected populations from the Lake Chad region, South Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia since the beginning of FY 2017.
- Of the newly announced funds, nearly $184 million is for affected populations from South Sudan, more than $110 million for affected populations from Ethiopia, more than $110 million for affected populations from Somalia, and more than $128 million for affected populations from Nijeriya and countries in the Lake Chad region.
- This brings the total since the beginning of FY 2017 to nearly $1.2 billion for affected populations from South Sudan, nearly $565 million for affected populations from Ethiopia, more than $602 million for affected populations from Somalia, and more than $655 million for affected populations from countries in the Lake Chad region.
Q: What is the humanitarian situation in these African countries?
- In the Lake Chad region and South Sudan, years of conflict have led to acute food insecurity. In Somalia, ongoing violence has exacerbated the humanitarian impacts of severe and protracted drought. In Ethiopia, continued drought has worsened an already dire food security situation.
- A swift influx of U.S. assistance, along with that of other donors, has held off widespread famine and helped improve humanitarian conditions in all of these countries. Nonetheless, severe hunger and related disease continues to threaten millions of lives.
- While humanitarian aid is truly life-saving, this assistance will not solve these crises, which are largely manmade and, therefore, preventable.
- The United States calls on all parties involved in these conflicts to end hostilities and allow aid workers safe and unhindered access to help communities in need.
- We also call upon other donors to increase the share of their funding to address these humanitarian needs.
Q: How is the U.S. responding to recent reports that al-Shabaab is profiting off of a scale up in cash and voucher assistance in Somalia and reports that U.S. commodities were seized during raids by Somali authorities?
- To our knowledge, al-Shabaab has not diverted U.S. humanitarian assistance. We will thoroughly investigate any evidence to the contrary, so that we can take appropriate action as necessary.
- We are actively assisting the Somali authorities and the World Food Program (WFP) as they investigate the possible diversion of food assistance.
- We will take appropriate and immediate remedial actions, alongside the WFP and the Somali Government, to recover any diverted assistance, and to work to prevent future diversions.
Q: What safeguards does the United States have in place to monitor programs and prevent U.S. assistance from being diverted?
- We take very seriously any allegation that our humanitarian aid was misused in any way, and we have a zero tolerance policy for fraud, waste, and abuse of American taxpayer resources.
- We have worked and continue to work closely with our partners to ensure they have aggressive risk mitigation systems in place. U.S. humanitarian aid is intended for children, women, and men in need, and we place the highest priority on ensuring taxpayer funds are used wisely, effectively and for their intended purpose.
- In many cases, we work with independent third-party monitors, who possess an in-depth understanding of local customs and on-the-ground conditions, to review programs. This additional layer of oversight is especially helpful in the challenging contexts where we operate.
- We thoroughly investigate any evidence or claims that U.S. funding has been misused, and take appropriate action as necessary.
Q: We’ve heard reports that famine is again possible in South Sudan. What is the United States doing to prevent this?
- The current humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, including the increasing risk of famine, is man-made by the parties to the conflict. Although the UN Food and Agriculture Organization reported adequate levels of rain in South Sudan during the current growing season, agricultural production has been significantly reduced due to continued fighting. The United States calls on these actors to put their political ambitions aside, to return to the peace talks sponsored by the region and urgently prioritize the welfare of their citizens.
- According to the recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification update – a food security report by the Government of South Sudan, the UN, and other humanitarian partners – 5.3 million people – nearly 50 percent of the current population – required food assistance in January, a 40 percent increase from the same time last year. In the event of a prolonged disruption of humanitarian assistance, famine is likely in parts of South Sudan in the coming months, especially in areas where large populations are already facing severe food insecurity.
- The U.S. is the single largest provider of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan, having provided nearly $3.1 billion since the start of the conflict in December 2013, including this latest funding.
- U.S. support provides an estimated 1.4 million people with life-saving humanitarian assistance every month. Since the beginning of the crisis in 2013, USAID has provided approximately 680,000 metric tons of emergency food assistance to South Sudan – enough to feed approximately 3.7 million people, or roughly the population of the State of Connecticut, for a year.
- In preparation for the lean season – the period of the year when hunger is most severe – which started in January, three months earlier than usual, USAID continues to support the pre-positioning of emergency food assistance in strategic locations around the country to assist vulnerable families. In addition, USAID is providing vital nutrition assistance, emergency health care, and safe drinking water, latrines, and hygiene kits to prevent people from dying from hunger, as well as to prevent the spread of diseases like cholera, which can be a significant cause of death during food crises.
- The State Department is also providing support for more than 2.4 million South Sudanese refugees who have fled to neighboring countries in the region. This aid includes critical protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees in Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda, all of which struggle to meet the needs of their own people.
- Humanitarian actors are working tirelessly at great personal risk to deliver life-saving assistance to people in need throughout the country. All parties to the conflict must stop impeding relief efforts and allow food and other critical assistance to reach people who need it most.
- The United States is deeply engaged in efforts to end widespread violence, address the root causes of internecine conflict, help resolve the massive humanitarian crisis, and promote accountability for atrocity crimes and human rights abuses committed during the conflict.
Q: Is any of this new funding going to Oxfam?
- No. None of this new funding will go to Oxfam.
Q: How will you ensure that none of the new funding is used for sexual exploitation?
- The United States is a leading provider of humanitarian assistance worldwide and we take seriously our responsibility to ensure employees and humanitarian partners are actively working to protect the populations they serve from sexual exploitation and abuse.
- The United States government has a zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse.
- When allegations of sexual exploitation or abuse are brought to our attention, we require that the organization take the necessary steps to appropriately address the issue.
- We expect our partners to have internal complaints and investigation procedures in place, as well as strong whistleblower policies. The absence of mechanisms to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation or abuse can be considered cause for termination of funding with organizations.