Cabinet Director of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Humanitarian Action, and Solidarity,
Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System,
Representative of PAM,
Representative of NCR,
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Director of CNAR,
Coordinator of AARREC,
Distinguished guests in your ranks, grades, and functions.
I am very happy to be among you this morning.
It is one of the deepest desires of the United States to help refugees in danger on their voyages to better lives; in fact it reminds us of the foundation of our nation and is emblematic in our Statue of Liberty at the entrance to New York City. Currently the world is confronted with the worst refugee crisis since the World War II. The Republic of the Congo shelters more than sixty-one thousand (61, 000) refugees. These people – mothers, fathers, daughters, sons- these families- fled wars, violence, and persecution in their origin countries. The Republic of the Congo has long been a solid partner in welcoming its neighbors with open arms and in working to find lasting solutions to apparently insurmountable problems. Even so, the available resources from donors and host governments to face the world refugee crisis are not sufficient and it is the same case for the Republic of the Congo.
Today, I would like to discuss three main topics. First, I would like to announce a concrete commitment of more than three (3) million dollars from the American people to continue to support the NCR and refugees in the Republic of the Congo. Secondly, I would like to underline the impact of a grant for a 2015 project to help refugees in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo that is on the brink of closure. Finally, I would like to discuss the importance of partnerships.
As I already mentioned, the people of the United States of America are generous. Americans are proud to help their neighbors and partners in need. It is for this reason that I am very happy to announce an additional contribution of more than three-million-fifty-thousand (3, 050, 000) dollars, around two (2) billion CFA francs to the HCR for the Republic of the Congo to respond to urgent needs and wants of refugees, and the local population affected by the influx of refugees. The United States government is the largest world donor to the HCR.
In December 2015, I learned of distressing reports from two American diplomats who went to Likouala to visit a refugee camp. The political officer at our embassy, accompanied by the regional coordinator of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migrants (BPRM) at the Department of State called for immediate and necessary urgent action. Despite the best efforts by the refugee community, their partners at the local Congolese government, and the HCR, the challenges in key areas of health, stability, education, nutrition, security, and logistics continue to persist and grow, in part due to the lack of available resources in key sectors. These difficulties contributed to the visible deterioration of conditions in two refugee camps in Likouala on April 15th and in Ikpengbele.
We took immediate measure to assure that the BPRM bureau in Washington would approve a supplementary contribution. The HCR had already starter to implement these funds in the zones most in need. In addition to this additional contribution, the embassies of the United States around the world, in collaboration with the BPRM, launched other grants for refugee programs through the Julia Taft Refugee Fund. The process is competitive, and the Republic of the Congo had the chance in the past to benefit from this program. Julia Taft, a former under-secretary in BPRM began the program in 2000.
In 2015, we allotted a [subvention] of almost twenty-five-thousand (25,000) dollars to the Agency of Assistance for Repatriated and Refugees in the Congo (AARREC), a local Congolese NGO based in Likouala. AAREC is about to finish this project. Over the course of six (6) months, AAREC built new wells, showers, bathrooms, and hand-washing stations to improve the health, morale, and dignity of thousands of refugees in Ikpengbelé. Furthermore, this organization developed a program to engage youth who created sports teams, theater clubs, and folklore groups. I congratulate AAREC and the HCR for their relentless work.
Finally, I would like to discuss the importance of partnerships. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and thousands of devoted personnel of the United States government around the world strive every day to find opportunities for engagement, partnership, and shared prosperity. Here in the Republic of the Congo, the commitment of the United States in areas of common interest that benefit both our peoples is stronger. We recently launched the construction project to extend the embassy. Last week, I attended a ceremony in an art school before the Djoué that we financed.
Tomorrow, I will attend another signing ceremony to deepen our partnership with the government of the Republic of the Congo to protect precious forest resources. The United States invests in the Republic of the Congo and in the Congolese people. We hope to continue to work together to face challenges. In conclusion, I am extremely proud to officially announce the latest contribution from the United States government to the HCR, and to congratulate AAREC for its achievement and successful project. The United States is proud to have supported the tenacious work of these organizations.
We know that thanks to a continued partnership with the HCR and the government of the Republic of the Congo and other partners, we can work together to find solutions to humanitarian challenges that sometimes mean life or death. This donation from the United States government represents the essence of diplomatic and humanitarian cooperation. The donation has the potential not only to increase access to education, stability, potable water, and improving means of subsistence and protection – it has the potential to save lives.
Moninga ya solo bayebake ye na tango ya passi.