Heather Nauert
Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and State Department Spokesperson
Washington Marriott Georgetown Hotel
Washington, DC
March 19, 2018

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you Carolyn. We are all grateful for your twenty years of service to Save the Children. You’ve impacted millions of lives. As a mom of two young ones, thank you. I’m also pleased to see so many young leaders here with us.

Childhood is the cornerstone for development at the individual, community and national level. What happens during childhood has a profound impact throughout the rest of your life. It shapes you. It can change your course.

The good news is that cost-effective, strategic investments made during childhood can mitigate the effects of poverty, social inequality, and discrimination. The result? Long-lasting gains that benefit children and youth, families, communities, and nations.

Today I want to talk about some of the ways the State Department joins you in this work – in your mission – to help children have a brighter future.

Whether caused by natural disaster, conflict, or civil war, humanitarian challenges are multiplying around the world.

Nearly 250 million children around the world are affected by armed conflict. About 50 million by natural disasters. And over half of the 65 million people currently displaced by war are children.

In the midst of these emergencies and crises, children are separated from their families. Some are recruited into armies or economically exploited. Many are at greater risk of injury and disability, physical and sexual violence, and distress.

Ensuring their safety and wellbeing calls for a range of actions, including fulfilling basic needs like food and clean water; promoting a protective environment; enhancing access to education; providing psychosocial support; and identifying short and long-term care arrangements.

The United States is committed in ensuring that all vulnerable children have the opportunity to thrive. Our country is proud to be a global leader in responding to crises around the world, and to getting children the help they need.

The United States is the single largest humanitarian donor in the world. Last year, the United States provided more than $8 billion in emergency humanitarian assistance. This support delivers life-saving assistance, including health, nutrition, education, child protection, and family reunification.

Let me provide some specific examples.

About two weeks ago, additional funding was announced to provide $145 million for those affected by conflict in South Sudan, as well as nearly $39 million to help South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries.

The United States is also one of the leading humanitarian donors for the Syria response. Our country has provided more than $7 billion in humanitarian assistance for those displaced inside Syria and the region since the start of the crisis. This assistance helps more than four million Syrians every month across all 14 governorates inside the country. It also supports the 5.5 million Syrians affected by the conflict in neighboring countries.

Many of you will have heard about the tragedy in Burma – a tragedy I witnessed firsthand last fall. Since the beginning of last year, the United States has provided more than $177 million in assistance. This money saves lives. It helps provide protection, emergency shelter, food and nutritional assistance, as well as health care for people affected by the crisis, including those displaced and the nearly 700,000 refugees who fled to Bangladesh.

But we also understand that investing in education is a solid investment. Education provides children with stability while developing essential skills to equip them for their future. With an education, cycles of conflict and displacement can end.

So we prioritize education for young people.

Since 2011, the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, has provided an education to more than 22 million children living in conflict or crisis settings. Today USAID also funds education programs for basic and higher education in about 60 countries.

Finally, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – PEPFAR – the Administration has made an unprecedented commitment to the health and well-being of vulnerable children, adolescent girls, and young women.

2.2 million babies have been born HIV-free to HIV-positive mothers due to PEPFAR support.

PEPFAR investments contributed greatly to the 60 percent decline in new HIV infections among children in 21 sub-Saharan African between 2009 and 2015.

And through PEPFAR, over 1 million children are receiving lifesaving treatment and 6.4 million orphans, vulnerable children and their caregivers have received support.

As we continue this humanitarian leadership, we will continue to emphasize the importance of coordinated, effective, and efficient international responses. No government or organization can do this work alone.

This is a time for collective action, not just by governments, but in partnership with the private sector, to face the most urgent humanitarian crises of our time. We need help from partner countries, the private sector, and nonprofit groups like Save the Children too.

Thank you for doing your part, both in the United States and abroad.

U.S. Department of State

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