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Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Government Engagement with the International System for Humanitarian Response


Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
September 29, 2010

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Date: 09/29/2010 Description: USAID and State Logo - State Dept Image

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We wanted to share with you news of a new and additional United States contribution of $1 million to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). As you know, OCHA is the arm of the United Nations responsible for bringing together humanitarian assistance agencies to promote coherent responses to alleviate suffering in disasters and emergencies. This note comes from the three of us, as each of our Bureaus shares the view that our broad involvement with voluntary agencies dealing with humanitarian response (such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR], the International Organization for Migration [IOM], the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC], and the World Food Program [WFP]) must be matched by a deep commitment to enhance the tools for coordination of the proliferation of humanitarian responders who are trying to safeguard lives and create the conditions for sustainable recovery around the world. And while there are varying perspectives on the precise responsibilities that OCHA should take on, there is no argument that the agency has a critical role to play in system-wide responses to humanitarian crises.

This new U.S. contribution, through the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, reaffirms our collective desire for active engagement with OCHA – especially as it is directed to its under-resourced general fund and is designed to support OCHA's efforts to strengthen and improve humanitarian coordination. .

The contribution also reflects our desire to work closely with OCHA’s new leader, Valerie Amos, as well as with our partners in the NGO community as we consider ways to enhance the coherence and effectiveness of international humanitarian response.

The United States is consistently among OCHA's top five major donors annually. In fiscal year 2009, the United States provided about $17.5 million to OCHA, including $13 million from USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and $3.4 million from the Department of State. .

Sincerely,

Eric Schwartz
Assistant Secretary of State
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
U.S. Department of State

Esther Brimmer
Assistant Secretary of State
International Organization Affairs
U.S. Department of State

Dirk Dijkerman
Acting Assistant Administrator
Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Response
U.S. Agency for International Development



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