Crises on Four Fronts: Rising to the Call

Posted by Rajiv Shah
August 21, 2014
A Large Shipment of Food Arrives at the World Food Programme UNMISS UNHOUSE Warehouse in Juba, South Sudan

In a time of unparalleled need, the response from our nation’s humanitarians and our partners has been inspiring.  Children and their families trapped on Mount Sinjar in Iraq are receiving U.S. military airdrops of food and water.  In South Sudan, life-saving supplies are arriving by air to vulnerable communities cut off by violence.  In West Africa, health workers are fighting the Ebola virus, even at great risk to themselves. And in the refugee camps on the Syrian border, we’re getting children into school so that this devastating crisis doesn’t rob them of their future.

From the Central African Republic to Gaza, from Burma to Yemen, millions of vulnerable people are relying on the life-saving assistance that the United States and our partners provide.  Food to revive malnourished children. Hygiene kits to stop the spread of disease.  Safe spaces for children to laugh and play.

This is the first time in our Agency’s history that we have been called on to manage four large-scale humanitarian responses at once -- in addition to reaching other vulnerable populations worldwide and preparing communities ahead of natural disasters.  We are not working alone. We are grateful to our UN, NGO, and local partners, who have demonstrated exceptional fortitude and compassion in the face of relentless tragedy.

They are epidemiologists who have flown into the epicenter of one of the world’s deadliest diseases to help track its spread.  They’re logisticians who are coordinating with the U.S. military to airdrop food and water to families stranded on Mount Sinjar.  They’re engineers who have helped design displaced persons camps so that women and girls can walk around at night without risking their lives.  They’re doctors who are staffing clinics where children have arrived riddled with shrapnel or wasted by hunger.

Today, we are able to equip these heroes with new tools and technologies that have dramatically improved our emergency response, including satellite maps to forecast the risk of famine in South Sudan and debit cards that enable families to shop for their own food at local stores in refugee camps on the Syrian border.

These crises are far from over.  We will continue to work closely with our essential partners, especially our fellow donor nations, to do more to save lives and foster lasting solutions.  Despite the challenges, we remain committed to providing help in an emergency—regardless of danger or difficulty.  It is one of the most profound expressions of who we are as the American people.

If you would like to contribute, I encourage you to make a monetary donation to a reputable humanitarian organization already working on the ground.  Nothing will get there faster or help more.

About the Author: Dr. Raj Shah is the Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Editor's Note: This entry originally appeared on the USAID Impact Blog.

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