March 22, 2017

Corker Opening Statement at Hearing on The State of Global Humanitarian Affairs

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Hearing: Flashing Red: The State of Global Humanitarian Affairs

March 22, 2017

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chairman

Last month, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the executive director of the World Food Program issued a warning regarding severe food shortages sweeping across Africa.

Humanitarian crises are expanding, with a famine now afflicting South Sudan, and others threatening Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen. Each of these is marked by misgovernance and conflict that worsens existing conditions and threatens to trigger the starvation and displacement of tens of millions of people.

In South Sudan, conduct by President Kiir, and the failure of the region to effectively engage with the political leaders in South Sudan has led to famine and atrocities.

In Yemen, a country with chronic natural resource and food shortfalls, the crisis is aggravated by conflicts that have created severe obstacles to humanitarian access.

In Somalia, Al Shabaab-created insecurity and lack of governing structures continues to threaten millions of Somalis.

In Nigeria—Africa’s largest country by population—millions in the northeast face starvation as Boko Haram violence has prevented most humanitarian access.

When we consider the ongoing wars elsewhere in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and South Asia, the world is experiencing historic levels of displacement and emergency needs.

Last year, there were an unprecedented 65 million people displaced, stateless, or otherwise in need of humanitarian assistance—the highest number ever recorded—and this year, it is expected to reach close to 70 million people. Unbelievable.

The fact that so many of these tragic situations are man-made demands that we look at how we use our policy tools to prevent and relieve such a catastrophe.

Today’s hearing is an opportunity to understand how these crises affect U.S. interests and review how we might better work to sustain life, support stability, and help communities become more resilient.

It is also imperative that we discuss ways to stretch our aid dollars further through food aid reforms and efficiencies—feeding more people with the same level of funding—and I hope our committee can come together to support such reforms during next year’s farm bill reauthorization.

Finally, we must look at the instruments of our diplomatic, development, economic, and defense power and determine how we might best put them to use in reversing this trend that leads to instability and threatens our interests.

We thank our witnesses. I’ll be introducing you shortly. And with that, I’ll turn to our distinguished ranking member, Ben Cardin.

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