The Passing of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus

31 Dec

The Secretary of State

The United States mourns the passing of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus – a holy man, witness to faith, and once Shepherd of the Catholic faithful.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a dedicated leader and was committed to interfaith dialogue.  He was an advocate for vulnerable persons, including refugees, internally displaced persons, and migrants.  He supported international legal measures to defend them.  He was a renowned theologian within the Catholic Church for decades.

We offer our deepest condolences to the Catholic faithful around the world, the Holy See, and all those whose lives were enriched by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s spiritual guidance.

WHO meets with Chinese officials on current COVID-19 situation

30 Dec

A high-level meeting took place on 30 December between WHO and China about the current surge in COVID-19 cases, to seek further information on the situation, and to offer WHO's expertise and further support.

High-level officials from China's National Health Commission and the National Disease Control and Prevention Administration briefed WHO on China's evolving strategy and actions in the areas of epidemiology, monitoring of variants, vaccination, clinical care, communication and R&D. 

WHO again asked for regular sharing of specific and real-time data on the epidemiological situation – including more genetic sequencing data, data on disease impact including hospitalizations, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and deaths – and data on vaccinations delivered and vaccination status, especially in vulnerable people and those over 60 years old. WHO reiterated the importance of vaccination and boosters to protect against severe disease and death for people at higher risk.  

WHO called on China to strengthen viral sequencing, clinical management and impact assessment, and expressed willingness to provide support on these areas, as well as on risk communications on vaccination to counter hesitancy. Chinese scientists are invited to engage more closely in WHO-led COVID-19 expert networks including the COVID-19 clinical management network. WHO has invited Chinese scientists to present detailed data on viral sequencing at a meeting of the Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution on 3 January.

WHO stressed the importance of monitoring and the timely publication of data to help China and the global community to formulate accurate risk assessments and to inform effective responses.

 

 

Launch of the AU Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mission in Ethiopia

30 Dec

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

We applaud the signing and launch of the African Union’s Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mission (AU-MVCM) in Mekele, another important step toward securing lasting peace for the people of northern Ethiopia.  The United States stands ready to support the AU-MVCM and full implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement (COHA), which includes disarmament of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) combatants, withdrawal of Eritrean forces, unimpeded humanitarian access, resumption of essential services, and implementation of transitional justice.

We call on the parties to ensure the protection of civilians as mandated in the COHA and believe the AU-MVCM should play an important role in monitoring and verifying respect for human rights throughout the former conflict areas.  We commend the AU and its High-Level Panel for facilitating agreement on the AU-MVCM.  We look forward to working with AU panel members and the parties to expedite full implementation of the COHA that leads to lasting peace for the benefit of all Ethiopians.  The United States will also continue to support the AU’s mandate to prevent, manage, and resolve conflicts and promote peace, security, and stability on the continent.

Israel’s New Government

30 Dec

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Today, Israel’s Knesset voted to ratify a new Israeli government under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  I look forward to working with the new Israeli government to promote peace, security, and prosperity in the region, and to advance the interests and values that have been at the heart of our relationship for decades.  The deep bonds between the United States and Israel have long been based upon an unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and certain shared ideals, including democratic principles and a vision of Israel at peace with its neighbors.  As President Biden said, we will work with the new government to jointly address the many challenges and opportunities facing Israel and the Middle East region, including the threat from Iran, and will continue to support a two-state solution and oppose policies that endanger its viability or contradict our mutual interests and values.  The United States will remain committed to promoting equal measures of freedom, justice, security, and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Statement by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee on Afghanistan: Women’s participation in aid delivery must continue

29 Dec

 

The decision by Afghanistan’s de facto authorities to ban women from working in humanitarian nongovernmental organizations is a major blow for vulnerable communities, for women, for children, and for the entire country.

Female staff are key to every aspect of the humanitarian response in Afghanistan. They are teachers, nutrition experts, team leaders, community health workers, vaccinators, nurses, doctors, and heads of organizations. They have access to populations that their male colleagues cannot reach and are critical to safeguarding the communities we serve. They save lives. Their professional expertise is indispensable. Their participation in aid delivery is not negotiable and must continue.

Banning women from humanitarian work has immediate life-threatening consequences for all Afghans. Already, some time-critical programmes have had to stop temporarily due to lack of female staff. This comes at a time when more than 28 million people in Afghanistan, including millions of women and children, require assistance to survive as the country grapples with the risk of famine conditions, economic decline, entrenched poverty and a brutal winter.

While humanitarian organizations continue to engage the de facto authorities, we cannot ignore the operational constraints now facing us as a humanitarian community. We will endeavour to continue lifesaving, time-critical activities unless impeded while we better assess the scope, parameters and consequences of this directive for the people we serve. But we foresee that many activities will need to be paused as we cannot deliver principled humanitarian assistance without female aid workers.

We remain resolute in our commitment to deliver independent, principled, lifesaving assistance to all the women, men and children who need it. 

We urge the de facto authorities to reconsider and reverse this directive, and all directives banning women from schools, universities and public life. No country can afford to exclude half of its population from contributing to society.

 

Signatories

  • Mr. Martin Griffiths, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
  • Mr. Qu Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • Ms. Shahin Ashraf, Chair, International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) Board, (Islamic Relief)
  • Mr. Ignacio Packer, Executive Director, International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA)
  • Ms. Miriam Sapiro, President and Chief Executive Officer, InterAction 
  • Ms. Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, Chief Eexcutive Officer, Mercy Corps
  • Ms. Janti Soerpinto, President and Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children US
  • Mr. António Vitorino, Director General, International Organization for Migration (IOM)
  • Mr. Volker Turk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
  • Mr. Andrew Morley, President and Chief Executive Officer, World Vision International
  • Ms. Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro, Secretary-General, CARE International
  • Ms. Paula Gaviria Betancur, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (UN SR on HR of IDPs)
  • Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  • Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat)
  • Mr. Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • Ms. Catherine Russell, Executive Director, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
  • Ms. Sima Bahous, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director (UN Women)
  • Mr. David Beasley, Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP)
  • Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO) 

 

 

Turkish Court Upholds Conviction of Osman Kavala

29 Dec

Vedant Patel, Principal Deputy Spokesperson

The United States is deeply troubled and disappointed by a Turkish court’s decision to uphold the conviction of Osman Kavala today.  As we have said before, his unjust conviction is inconsistent with respect for human rights and the rule of law.  We again call on Turkey to release Osman Kavala, in keeping with European Court of Human Rights rulings, as well as to free all others arbitrarily incarcerated. The people of Turkey deserve to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms without fear of retribution.