Remarks on Humanitarian Assistance for Africa | Julieta Valls Noyes – Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration

U.S. Department of State | Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration | Julieta Valls Noyes
Remarks on Humanitarian Assistance for Africa

July 15, 2022
Office of the Prime Minister
Kampala, Uganda
(As prepared for delivery)

Minister Onek, thank you for those kind words.  I am grateful to you and, especially, to Minister of State Esther Anyakun for the gracious hospitality shown to my team and me in Uganda this week.  I am also grateful to Ambassador Natalie Brown, regional refugee coordinator John Barbian, and everyone at U.S. Embassy Kampala for the extraordinary effort that went into planning and managing this visit.  It has been an incredible experience.

For decades, the government and people of Uganda have shown a touching history of generosity toward those fleeing catastrophic violence, persecution, and war.  And as I witnessed first-hand this week, even in the face of daunting challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and deteriorating security conditions on its borders, Uganda has not wavered in its commitment to welcoming the most vulnerable.  As the daughter of refugees myself, I appreciate the generosity of nations that offer safe refuge to those in need.

But I also saw and heard clearly that the refugee response in Uganda is very stretched, even as demands continue to increase.  I am proud that the United States remains the single largest donor country to the refugee response in Uganda and the single largest donor to UNHCR in Uganda and globally — but we need to do more.  We all need to do more.

And so it is my honor to announce that [in addition to the funds announced by Ambassador Brown $21 million] my country will soon also provide nearly $571 million in humanitarian assistance to forcibly displaced and persecuted people across Africa.  That includes those affected by crises in Ethiopia, the Sahel, and other new and protracted emergency situations across the continent.

All over this continent, critical humanitarian crises are under recognized and face dire funding constraints.  This assistance from the United States Government will enable our humanitarian partners to help over seven million refugees and asylum seekers throughout Africa, as well as over 25 million internally displaced persons.

Over $61 million dollars of that funding is specifically for Uganda, in addition to the funds we have already provided UNHCR and other partners for their work here. These funds will cover UNHCR’s and partner organizations’ work to date and ongoing life-saving and life-changing programs.  These include projects related to education, health, livelihoods, and protection for the most vulnerable.  We are happy to continue our long history of collaboration to meet refugee needs here in Uganda.  This funding will give our partners the agility to respond to evolving refugee response needs here and also to support host communities.

As I said before, I saw up close during my visit that the needs are great.  But so is the opportunity.  I heard this week from students whose career aspirations range from electrician to CEO to Prime Minister — aspirations that are possible because of our assistance and Uganda’s compassion.  I heard from volunteer health workers who asked only for gumboots and torches so the rain and dark would not impede their critical community interventions.  I heard from parents — including three parents who had babies in just the last week — that their infants survived neonatal distress thanks to operations we fund.

But cuts to food rations, challenges caused by COVID, increases in teenage pregnancy, and other stresses have had devastating effects.  Again, we need to respond.  The United States has done and continues to do its part.  I join the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, who also is visiting Africa this week, in calling on our partner nations and organizations, on the multilateral development banks and international financial institutions, and on the private sector to increase their donations to meet these pressing needs.

There is no greater privilege than representing the American people, whose generosity makes the assistance I announced today possible.  On their behalf, I thank you for your hospitality this week and for making such good use of the funds they have provided.

For additional information, see related U.S. Department of State, Press Statement, Humanitarian Assistance for Africa, July 15, 2022; and U.S. Agency for International Development, Press Release, United State Provides $82 million in Humanitarian Assistant in Uganda Amid Global Food Crisis, July 15, 2022.