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.



Shirley F.
United States
August 23, 2014
The nation I admire is China, which is actually helping poor nations build infrastructure, something which the "West" refuses to do. All of these crises arise because of poverty and underdevelopment. The "West" applies band-aids after the crises erupt. Building infrastructure cures the disease, rather than treating the symptoms.
Eric J.
New Mexico, USA
August 25, 2014

Dr. Rajiv Shah,

I've got a suggestion or three that might help the public understanding and raise funds for this effort.

The first being you and the President do a series of video PSA's to be aired on prime time to inform and solicit the help of the public to provide aid.

The second, while it's not in your immediate job description, is basicly that FEMA can do a lot better job managing domestic humanitarian disasters if lessons learned by USAID were applied. As well as a coordinated "whole of government" approach. While improvements have been made since Katrina, I believe bottle necks in domestic aid distribution still exist and need to be addressed before the next major disaster occurs.

Third, The US gov needs to take a new look at its refugee quotas if we are to lead by example. IE; this I mean if the pressure of 10 million displaced on neigboring countries like Jordan and Lebanon are to be aleviated anytime soon, then bringing the displaced to the aid may offset this. Say the US were to re-open a number of mothballed military bases in the US and set them up as refugee centers for pre-screened asylum seekers and families, then you'd have a model for other countries to help relocate the displaced on a humanitarian basis.

Giving the displaced safe haven and the time to learn the language and skills needed to integrate into American society which no current program can do on such a mass scale.

I figure if the only hope a displaced family has is to be stuck in a tent city for years on end, than that's no hope at all for any kind of a normal life, despite USAID's best efforts.

Personally I think we can do better than that by them, as a nation, if the political will is there to find creative solutions.




chief B.
Minnesota, USA
August 25, 2014
Only united states of America's leadership would save southern Sudanese citizens lives, seem president Salva Kirr and IGAD mediation team playing with. Because U.S. Government leaders, are one brought the independent to south Sudan, therefore they could act immediately to saves lives. President Salva Kirr, he is not anymore trusted by citizens who he think serving, due to the MASSACRE he committed on ethnic Nuer tribes innocents civilian on the faces of international community, in the nation capital Juba. We the citizens and immigrants from south Sudan, but here in USA, annually citizens, urges president Barack Obama 's administration to help our remained family back home. We voted every midterm and general election for city mayor, city council, state representative, state senate, state governor, U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator and himself president of United states of America. Why our problems that's seem finishing citizens.
Ein A.
United States
August 26, 2014
Thank you


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