We Must Continue To Help the World's Most Vulnerable

The holiday season and the end of the year is a chance to reflect on the past and look ahead to the New Year. The year 2014 opened with a set of terrible conflicts raging -- including wars in Syria, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. 
And then summer brought more bad news and a longer list of tragedies. ISIL’s attacks spread terror across Iraq. Bloody conflict in areas of southeastern Ukraine bordering Russia displaced hundreds of thousands of lives and left thousands dead. Fighting broke out between Hamas and Israel, unaccompanied Central American children arrived in record numbers at the United States’ southern border, and Africa faced the worst Ebola epidemic in history.
Despite this daunting list, humanitarians and supporters of humanitarian causes can take pride in what we have achieved. Aid groups that faced every conceivable obstacle -- donor fatigue, staffing shortages, impassable roads, blockades and attacks -- still found ways to keep millions of people alive. Humanitarians managed to stave off a man-made famine in South Sudan and to bring aid to besieged cities in Syria. Throughout the Middle East, a vaccination campaign that has reached 25 million children has helped contain the spread of polio.
The United States led the world’s humanitarian efforts by again serving as top donor. With the support of lawmakers from both parties, the State Department and USAID together provided more than $6 billion in humanitarian assistance this year. U.S. contributions powered the work of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the World Food Program, UNICEF, and other leading aid agencies. We also played a role in encouraging other nations to give, some made large donations to UN agencies for the first time. Kuwait organized a second international pledging conference for the Syria crisis that Secretary Kerry attended and gave generously itself. And Saudi Arabia stepped in at a critical moment with significant support for Iraq. 
The leaders of UN and other humanitarian organizations called attention to the world’s crises and worked assiduously to mount and mobilize effective responses.  Aid workers on the front lines showed professionalism and valor, even as they saw colleagues murdered by terrorists and felled by Ebola.
Even during challenging times, humanitarians must persevere. We must defend and rally support for humanitarian principles. We must attract new donors from across the globe, collaborate more, and seek new ways to respond nimbly and effectively. It is a privilege to engage on these issues alongside a host of the world’s best aid organizations. I realize that this note serves as a reminder of a series of tragic events around the world, but I also write to remind you that much is being done every day to save lives, alleviate pain and suffering, and help some of the world’s most vulnerable to find safety.
About the Author: Anne C. Richard serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.



Betty F.
United States
December 31, 2014
It seems to me that the most efficient way for you to help the victims of these crises, is to stop causing the crises. Your meddling and bullying has brought misery to every corner of the planet, and then you congratulate yourselves for throwing a few crumbs to the victims of your geopolitics.
Peter M.
New Zealand
January 2, 2015
If the US is serious about helping the vulnerable, it is high time to extricate itself from Israel's pocket and recognise the vulnerability of Palestinians under Israel's illegal occupation of their lands. Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry expressed outrage at the November attack on worshippers at a Jerusalem synagogue, with Secretary Kerry particularly calling for this attack to be condemned “in the most powerful terms. Certainly this attack was deplorable and should be condemned. However I question why Secretary Kerry has not expressed similar outrage over the two Palestinian 13 and 14 year old boys, one of them actually a US citizen, who have been killed by the Israeli military on the West Bank in the same month. See http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/24/palestinian-american-teenager-killed-west-bank and http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/17/teenage-boy-shot-dead-israeli-troops-west-bank . Further in July and August this year we witnessed the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, which killed 2145 Palestinians, including 578 children, 263 women, and 102 elderly people. This included attacks on United Nations schools which were being used as shelters for displaced people. Yet there was no similar outrage expressed by Secretary Kerry. Indeed instead there were comments regurgitating the Israel hasbara about rockets fired from Gaza, which have killed a total of 30 Israeli civilians in the last 13 years!! In his speech on 5 November on the threat posed by ISIS, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key commented that "there is little doubt that lack of movement towards a two-state solution in relation to Palestine, and the recent high number of civilian casualties in Gaza, serve to make the task of recruiters to extremist causes a significantly easier one." Yet Israel continues to commit atrocities against the Palestinian people with impunity, at least in part because of the ongoing silence or collusion from the United States. Recognising Palestinian statehood, supporting an end date for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and supporting the Palestinian bid to join the International Criminal Court would be a good place to start.
Julie S.
Illinois, USA
January 3, 2015
Fighting broke out between Hamas and Israel.....this is how you characterize a 21st Century military operation, Protective Edge, against a largely defenseless Occupied Territory by its occupiers that killed 1,767 civilians (according to Btselem, left"108,000 people rendered homeless as a result. Almost 70 per cent of fatalities were among civilians, of whom 34 per cent were children. [3] According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 11,231 individuals have been wounded, including 3,436 children. Preliminary estimates indicate that up to 1,000 of the children injured will be left with a lifelong disability. Up to 1,500 newly orphaned children will need sustained child protection and welfare support. according to UNRWA?" And what about the demolition of properties which leaves people homeless? According to 25 aid agencies, while we were engaging in "peace talks," "the number of demolitions increased by almost half and the displacement of Palestinians by nearly three-quarters between July 2013, when the talks began, and the end of the year, compared to the same period in 2012. Of the 663 Palestinian structures torn down last year, the highest number in five years, 122 were built with international donor aid, the groups said." The International Red Cross "announced this week it would stop delivering tents to Palestinians made homeless by demolitions in the Jordan border region of the occupied West Bank, citing Israeli obstruction and confiscation of aid. "International and local aid organisations have faced increasingly severe restrictions in responding to the needs created by the unlawful demolition of civilian property, in violation of Israel's obligation to facilitate the effective delivery of aid," wrote the groups, which included Oxfam and Christian Aid." "U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution recognising the right to water and sanitation as a basic universal human right. But that basic human right is so far not applicable to the Palestinians. Although the resolution was adopted by an overwhelming majority of states in the General Assembly, Israel abstained on that vote, along with the United States....." Our State Department doesn't consider water to be a basic human right? Why on earth would we abstain from voting on that? I guess i should be happy we didn't vote NO, eh? " Demolition of livelihood structures - including commercial structures, educational facilities, wells, water cisterns, water storage tanks, farmland and animal pens - by Israeli authorities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem increased by about 85 percent in 2010 and so far in 2011, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told IRIN. “Over 12,500 Palestinians were affected by the demolition of livelihood structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2010,” Ramesh Rajasingham, head of OCHA in Jerusalem, told IRIN, and “the majority of people effected, were impacted by the demolition of water cisterns in Area C. (the West Bank)” During 2010, 21 cisterns were demolished by the Israeli army, of which 9 were built thanks to funding from international donors." My tax money, helped the people and our "ally" destroyed what my tax dollars built to the detriment of the lives of 12.500 people. I'm sorry but this hardly seems like the action of a "democracy." We don't do that or do we? I think the answer to that is "yes" because our vast aid money to Israel is likely used to do it since they can't build settlements with it. And then we get to the Palestinian's decision to join the IRC and charge Israel with war crimes. According to Reuters the Secretary of State "has told them (Palestinians) privately in meetings that any Palestinian moves to join the ICC would endanger some half a billion dollars in annual American aid, which has repeatedly been docked before amid previous Palestinian campaigns at the United Nations." And the State Department's response: "It is an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people," State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said in a statement. "Actions like this are not the answer." Are the above actions by Israel "the answer?" What outcome exactly does the State Department think the Israeli actions will result in? My tax dollars are paying for this travesty of justice, peace, humanitarian and Christian ideals this country supposedly stands for. I would like to know just exactly what it is the State Department thinks will be helpful to peace and a Palestinian State. Watching this farce for the last 20 years has led me to believe that peace won't be achieved until Israel gets all the territory from the Mediterranean to the Jordan river, which of course, is the objective. The American people aren't stupid, nor are we limited to Fox, CNN, and MSNBC for our news. I don't want to pay for the genocide or apartheid. I would like an answer from the Secretary of State, and not his aides. I realize that will never happen because all I am is a lowly taxpayer. Perhaps if I had a billion dollar foundation behind me.........
John L.
United States
January 8, 2015
I agree with your point we have to help such persons which are in rare conditions.
Refugees in 2014
Posted by Anne C. Richard
December 31, 2014


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