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Ambassador Cindy McCain delivers the U.S. Opening Statement at the Second Annual WFP Executive Board
November 14, 2022

November 14, 2022

Thank you, Mr. President and Executive Director, for your thoughtful remarks and comprehensive presentations.

I begin my remarks on a somber note.  This is the third time we have met this year in the shadow of Russia’s unjustified, cruel and pointless war against Ukraine.  As winter sets in, let us pause for a moment to think of our brave Ukrainian brothers and sisters who face a bitter winter as Russia continues to target civilians and civilian infrastructure in their country.  Trade in foodstuffs and fertilizer is specifically exempted from U.S. sanctions.  All agricultural transactions are permitted.  Although banks banned from SWIFT cannot participate in the international financial system, this has not stopped Russia from accepting millions in payments for its energy exports.

History will judge Russia harshly for its actions.  Russia must cease its brutality immediately, withdraw from Ukraine, and return to the community of civilized nations.  Russia, and Russia alone, can end this war immediately – it should do so, and do so now.

As we have heard from the Executive Director and elsewhere, a startling 345 million people face acute food insecurity, with nearly one million—the majority women and children—at risk of dying of starvation.  This situation, exacerbated by climate change and made infinitely worse by Putin’s illegal war of choice, is as intolerable as it should be unthinkable in the 21st century.

Yet, there are some glimmers of hope.  Mr. Executive Director, the United States has heard your call and the calls of millions of hungry people around the world.  I am proud that we have contributed nearly $6 billion dollars to WFP this U.S. fiscal year.  Given the overwhelming need, other countries have also increased their contributions, and I commend them for their generosity.  But we can and must do more.  I ask that all of us dig deep into our budgets and increase funding in a moment of unparalleled need.

Looking ahead to 2023, the United States expects WFP to continue strengthening critical areas including supply chain, logistics, emergency response, beneficiary targeting, and monitoring. We encourage WFP to coordinate even more effectively with other organizations to best leverage capabilities and unique areas of expertise to ensure maximum effectiveness of limited resources.

As we program unprecedented levels of funding, the United States calls on WFP to work even harder on strengthening internal systems to ensure strong program and financial management, including oversight.  This needs to take place at every level—in the field, at regional offices, and here at headquarters.

Finally, the United States notes continued vacancies in a number of senior roles–some of which have been pending for more than a year–and urges WFP to swiftly identify quality candidates for these positions.

Mr. President, the United States values this opportunity to meet and welcomes the remarks of the Vice President of Colombia.  We look forward to our discussions on the management plan, key country strategic plans, and the Changing Lives Transformation Fund.  The United States will continue to hold WFP to the highest standard of accountability to ensure all these programs achieve their goals.

There is so much to discuss.  Thank you for the chance to offer