United States To Provide Additional $31 Million To Support Humanitarian Assistance for Burundi Crisis

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Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
March 10, 2016

 


The United States announces more than $31 million in additional life-saving humanitarian assistance for refugees from Burundi, Congolese refugees living in Burundi, and others in Burundi who are food insecure. This new funding brings the total U.S. humanitarian assistance for the regional response to the Burundi crisis to more than $86 million since the start of the crisis in 2015.

This funding includes more than $23 million for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) Burundi Situation Emergency Appeal and $8 million for the UN World Food Program’s (WFP) operation in Burundi. The additional funding will allow UNHCR to provide new refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia with basic life-saving assistance, such as shelter, access to clean water and sanitation facilities, health care, essential household items, programs which protect children, and activities to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. Inside Burundi, it will support WFP’s operation providing food vouchers, as well as locally and regionally purchased food, to both Congolese refugees in Burundi and citizens of Burundi affected by the current political crisis and natural disasters.

The United States will continue to support those affected by this crisis while working closely with humanitarian organizations and with countries in the region.

United States Calls on Burundi to Carry Out Stated Commitments

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Press Statement

John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs

Washington, DC

March 2, 2016

The United States welcomes signs of intensified regional and international commitment to resolving the Burundi crisis. This includes the appointment of former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa as the full-time facilitator for the regionally mediated dialogue and recent commitments by the Government of Burundi to the UN and African Union (AU) to release political prisoners and allow independent monitors.

In particular, the United States recognizes the AU High Level Delegation’s success in securing the Government of Burundi’s acceptance of 200 AU human rights and security observers, and we urge the government to allow these officials complete and free access to perform their duties by signing the memorandum of understanding associated with their deployment without delay.

We urge prompt action by the Government of Burundi to implement President Nkurunziza’s promise to release at least 2,000 detainees. We also call upon the Government of Burundi to lift all restrictions on media, create conditions for citizens to safely express dissenting views, and drop charges against and release political opponents. We welcome the decision by the Government of Burundi to accept the first visit by three United Nations independent experts, appointed by the Human Rights Council, to investigate violations and abuses, and to meet with all stakeholders.

The United States looks forward to the East African Community immediately announcing a date for the resumption of dialogue with all stakeholders, both those inside and outside the country. The United States continues to urge all sides to lay the groundwork for a successful dialogue by refraining from the daily grenade attacks, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, and other acts of violence that continue to destabilize Burundi. We also urge all the stakeholders to publicly commit to participating in the regionally-mediated dialogue without preconditions or red lines.

U.S. Government Announces New Community Reconciliation Project in S.Sudan

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The Government of the United States Thursday  announced a new initiative to support community- level reconciliation. It also launched the National Peace Center in Juba for all South Sudanese who wish to take an active role in promoting peace and reconciliation.

The new “Reconciliation for Peace in South Sudan” initiative – funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Catholic Relief Services – will address the deep and painful rifts within and between South Sudan’s diverse communities. Over the next 30 months, this $6 million program will support the South Sudan Council of Churches as it engages communities in grassroots reconciliation processes. This work will reach approximately 1.25 million South Sudanese, responding to a nationwide need for healing and reconciliation

It will have a special focus on women, youth and others that have been marginalized by years of conflict.

U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Molly Phee announced the new reconciliation program at the launch of the National Peace Center, a USAID-funded community center that responds to calls by civil society, political parties and other South Sudanese for a place to coordinate efforts to promote peace and receive credible information about the peace process.

The National Peace Center provides publications on global peace processes and implementation strategies to prepare South Sudanese to take a more active role in public debate.

It also offers materials – including copies of the peace agreement, legislation, and official policies – which visitors can take away and share with local networks.

Other services include hosting programs and offering meeting space, computer access, and Internet. Through these activities, the Center aims to help facilitate the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.

“By funding both the Reconciliation for Peace in South Sudan initiative and the National Peace Center, we hope to ensure that the peace process is inclusive, and sustained by the active participation of all South Sudanese,” said Ambassador Phee. “We hope to empower every South Sudanese to take a more active part in their country’s future.”

 

IMF Staff Concludes Visit to Tunisia

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In response to a request from the Tunisian authorities, an IMF mission led by Mr. Amine Mati visited Tunis from February 18 to March 3, 2016, to hold discussions on a four-year arrangement under the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF), expected to amount to about $2.8 billion, to support the country’s economic reform program. At the end of the visit, Mr. Mati issued the following statement:

“The team held productive discussions with senior government and Central Bank officials. It also met with members of parliament, representatives of the banking and private sectors, political parties, trade unions, donors, and civil society. Discussions focused on the government’s economic reform agenda, policy priorities to boost economic growth, and the role that the IMF can play to support Tunisia’s economic recovery.

“Moving ahead with economic reform is crucial as the Tunisian economy confronts several significant challenges. Economic growth is held back by investors’ wait-and-see attitude and regional uncertainties, unemployment is high, and the current account deficit remains significant. Promoting private-sector development and modernizing the public sector are important tasks. Additional financing will be needed to rebuild buffers, while at the same time correcting structural inefficiencies that lower Tunisia’s ability to create jobs and future growth potential.

“The team supports the government’s comprehensive economic reform program, spelled out in its economic vision, which is expected to be detailed in its forthcoming 5-Year Development Plan. The government program appropriately focuses on boosting economic growth, creating more jobs, and raising the living standards of all Tunisians. Overall, the program will help make growth more inclusive and reduce regional disparities. To achieve these objectives, the government has committed to continue pursuing prudent macroeconomic policies and accelerate the implementation of its ambitious structural reform agenda. The mission discussed its observations on the economic reform program with the Tunisian authorities.

“Negotiations for a new IMF arrangement to support the government’s economic reform program are at an advanced stage. As next steps, the team will continue its discussions with the authorities as they finalize their reform priorities and fine tune plans for this year’s budget execution and financing needs. In the coming weeks, the team plans to finalize the details of the EFF in support of Tunisia’s economic program.

“The mission would like to thank the authorities and all those with whom they met for their warm welcome and the frank and productive discussions.”

Flint: Fundamentally about human rights – UN experts underline

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GENEVA (3 March 2016) – Today, a group of United Nations human rights experts called on the United States to increase its efforts to address environmental threats to human rights.

Recent outrage over lead-contaminated water in the town of Flint, Michigan, has drawn international scrutiny to the toxic threats faced by children, particularly in poor, African-American, minority, and Native American communities, in the US.

The group of UN experts on hazardous wastes, health, water and sanitation, indigenous peoples, minorities, and racism described the issue as one of human rights, and urged the US to protect the rights of children and others who are most at-risk from pollution and toxic chemicals.

Their appeal comes as US presidential candidates are debating issues confronting Flint and other communities at risk this week in Michigan.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the children of Flint and to the countless other victims of lead poisoning in the United States and around the world”, the UN experts said. “Lead poisoning is preventable. No parent should have to endure the mental torment that will haunt parents in Flint, and no child should be denied the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”

Exposure to toxic chemicals and pollution, the experts underlined, affect the right to safe water, the right to adequate housing, the right to safe food, as well as the right to health, among others, including the rights of the child and indigenous peoples. Also, disproportionate levels of exposure invoke questions of discrimination and inequality.

“Those who need the most support and protection often face the greatest risk from pollution and toxic substances,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak. “For many communities in the US and around the world, the risks are growing. Far more is needed to protect human rights from toxic threats.”

The experts noted that across the United States nearly twice as many African-American children (5.6 percent) have high levels of lead in their bloodstream as compared with white children (2.4 percent).  The majority of people in Flint, Michigan are African-American (57 percent).  Forty-two percent of residents are below the poverty line. Across the State of Michigan as a whole, 14 percent is African-American and 16 percent live in poverty.

Lead is only one of many toxic chemicals to which minorities and the poor are often disproportionately exposed. A recent report has found that minorities in the US comprise nearly half the population (11.4 million people) living near potential sources of toxic emissions, and they are almost twice as likely as whites to live on the “fenceline.”  More than one-quarter of children (1.6 million) living in these hazardous areas are children under the age of five,  whose developing bodies are especially vulnerable to the adverse health impacts of toxic chemical exposure.

“Unfortunately, Flint is just one of countless communities around the world who are victims of pollution and toxic chemicals”, the experts noted. “Exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals is a human rights issue. But, it is a human rights issue for which solutions are possible”.

“We commend President Obama for declaring a federal state of emergency to accelerate the distribution of bottled water and filters to the people of Flint”, said Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. “However, much more must be done to protect those who live in vulnerable situations and to restore a safe permanent water supply”.

Specifically, the UN experts urged the United States Government to:

• Ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, without reservation.

• Show leadership in reducing the risks related to toxic chemicals at home and abroad and addressing the issues raised by toxic chemicals and pollution as a human rights issue.

• Strengthen protections for the most marginalized and those in vulnerable situations from hazardous substances, especially children, the poor, and minorities by addressing the underlying determinants of health, including access to safe food, to clean water, healthy occupational and environmental conditions, and access to health-related education and information.

• Take legislative and regulatory actions to protect the rights of those to most at risk by requiring the use of safer chemicals and technologies whenever possible.

• Enhance access to and quality of health care facilities, services, and goods in affected areas, paying particular attention to the socio-epidemiological profile of the situation.