Rome, June 20, 2022
Thank you, Mr. President and Executive Director, for your thoughtful remarks and comprehensive presentations.
Let me begin by expressing, as have other colleagues, the US sincere condolences for those WFP staff members who lost their lives in 2021. This underscores the dangers that WFP faces on a daily basis in order to help the world’s most vulnerable.
When we met last time, it was in the opening days of Russia’s unjustified, unprovoked war against Ukraine. Unfortunately, the consequences of this unconscionable act of aggression continue to spread, despite what our Russian colleagues may wish you to believe.
You see, Russia may think this is a war on Ukraine, but this is also a war on food. I say again—this is a war on food, and though we may not realize it, this war on food affects every one of us in the room. And make no mistake, it is not sanctions, but rather Russia’s aggression, that is entirely responsible.
Ukraine is the breadbasket of the world and produces much of the food used to respond to humanitarian crises and save lives. By blocking critical exports of Ukrainian wheat and oil, Russia is making life even harder for the world’s most vulnerable.
More broadly, Russia’s war affects those who depend on commercial imports of Ukrainian grain and oil. I saw the consequence of this during a trip earlier this year to Kenya, where prices continue to rise in response to limited supply. This scenario is mirrored in many countries and regions around the world. In the months since we met last, the impacts of the war have only grown, with no end in sight.
Executive Director, the United States commends WFP for reaching 124 million people with food assistance last year, and we have heard your call for more funding to meet this moment of urgent need. Since Russia’s war began in February, the United States has provided nearly $2.8 billion in emergency food assistance to respond to the world’s growing needs, including the exceptional decision to draw down the entire Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust. The United States Congress has also made another $4.3 billion available to meet growing humanitarian needs that have been exacerbated by Russia’s senseless and costly war.
America will always answer the call to help those in need, and I urgently call on all of our fellow Member States to give as much as you can to support life-saving humanitarian efforts to respond to this global crisis.
I call on Russia, as well. It’s a simple message: stop this war, not only for the benefit of the Ukrainian and the Russian peoples, but for those far from the frontlines around the world who are affected and suffering, nonetheless.
We know that this year of unprecedented challenges is going to require an exceptionally strong and capable WFP, in particular in light of the organization’s enormous growth. We endorse WFP’s dual mandate—indeed, the US is the largest single funder of resilience programming at WFP. Given the enormous needs described by the ED, we urge WFP to prioritize saving lives. We ask WFP to make the necessary investments in its internal systems – from monitoring to supply chain capacity – to ensure that it is able to perform effectively and efficiently.
Mr. President, the United States looks forward to our discussions this week. We value the high-level panel to discuss the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, and we look forward to hearing from the Vice President of Benin and from the UNICEF Executive Director. The United States especially commends the Government of Benin for their substantial investments made in supporting the National School Meals Program. We are also eager to review the updated Management plan and budget and to hear from the staff association representatives.
As WFP continues to outline its goals for implementation of the strategic plan, we look forward to discussing your organization’s approach to country capacity strengthening and ensuring those efforts are concentrated in places where they will have greatest impact.
The United States also underscores the importance of WFP’s efforts to coordinate within the broader UN system, particularly on issues of cash assistance and humanitarian data. As a leader in humanitarian data and analysis, we urge WFP to work with the humanitarian community to converge around the provision of IPC and IPC-compatible analysis to inform global food security information products. Finally, we underscore the importance of WFP’s efforts to prioritize the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse and look forward to hearing about progress towards this goal, which will enhance gender equity and equality.
There is always so much to discuss at these events—this session will be no different. We look forward to the discussion this week, and with that, I turn the floor back over to you, President.