Moderator: Hello, I would like to welcome journalists to today’s virtual press briefing with Ambassador Alice Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. Ambassador Wells, thank you so much for joining us today, and I’ll turn it over to you for opening remarks.
Thank you, Sven, and good morning everyone. Thank you, Nikolay, for this briefing. As always, your efforts of you and your team are to be applauded. Thank you so much again. And I know that you don’t have an easy job, and, therefore, more the reason to tell you how much we appreciate the fairness with which you work to address this conflict.
The United States continues to be a catalyst for the international response to help the Venezuelan people and region respond to the ongoing humanitarian crisis caused by the former Maduro regime. We are providing more than $200 million in additional assistance from the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Inter-American Foundation (IAF), including more than $138 million in humanitarian assistance, for Venezuelans in need.
Today, the United States is imposing financial sanctions and visa restrictions on Iranian individuals and entities under human rights-related authorities. These actions with respect to 12 Iranian individuals and entities by the Department of State and Department of the Treasury send a message of support to the Iranian people that we will continue to support their demands for transparent and accountable governance and speak out for those who are being silenced by this regime. Our pressure on Iran to treat its own people with dignity and respect will not cease.
The People’s Republic of China is one of the rapidly dwindling number of countries that welcomes Mahan Air, which ferries weapons and terrorists around the world for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Such cooperation has consequences.
Through the American people’s generosity and the U.S. Government’s action, the United States continues to demonstrate global leadership in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The American people have given more than $10 billion that will benefit the global COVID-19 response, and we continue to ensure that the substantial U.S. funding and scientific efforts on this front remain a central and coordinated part of the worldwide effort against COVID-19.
The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing nearly $23.4 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help end the ongoing outbreak of Ebola in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and neighboring countries, the second-largest outbreak of the disease on record.
The United States remains deeply concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in Syria. This Council knows full well that the virus is worsening the existing humanitarian crisis, and that the country’s already fragile health system, continuing displacement, high population density, and low levels of sanitation heighten the risk of a severe outbreak. Left unaddressed, an exacerbation of COVID-19 in Syria could threaten stability throughout the entire region.
The United States condemns Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Assembly. At a time when the world continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, we need multilateral institutions to deliver on their stated missions and to serve the interests of all member states, not to play politics while lives are at stake.
We applaud the Government of France and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals for the arrest of Félicien Kabuga, who is charged with playing a key role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. We commend law enforcement officials worldwide who contributed to the arrest.