Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard will travel to Burkina Faso and Geneva, July 29- August 4, 2012. During the visit, Assistant Secretary Richard will join UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres to review the situation of refugees from the crisis in Mali, which is taking place within the broader Sahel food insecurity emergency.
Since January of this year, conflict and insecurity in Mali have generated more than 260,000 Malian refugees; an additional 155,000 Malians are estimated to be internally displaced.
On July 12, 2012, President Obama authorized the use of up to $10 million from the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund to respond to the unexpected and urgent refugee and migration needs resulting from the conflict in northern Mali. The emergency funds will be used to support the efforts of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide life-saving protection and assistance to those fleeing the conflict. This brings U.S. support for the Malian refugee aspect of the Sahel crisis to more than $30 million, and brings total U.S. assistance being provided for the broader Sahel humanitarian emergency to nearly $350 million in FY 2012.
However, UNHCR’s appeals for the refugee crisis remain severely underfunded having received less than a third of the nearly $154 million required. This gravely low level of support threatens essential life-saving operations, such as the provision of shelter, clean water, proper sanitation, and basic health services. We urge the international community to increase support for the operations underway to relieve suffering and assist those affected by the crisis in the Sahel.
In Burkina Faso, Assistant Secretary Richard will visit Damba refugee camp with the High Commissioner and meet with UN and government officials. She will also visit programs for family planning and fistula care in Ouagadougou and meet with the First Lady of Burkina Faso, Mme. Chantal Campaoré, who is the Goodwill Ambassador of the Campaign for the Worldwide Ban of Female Genital Mutilation. In Geneva, Assistant Secretary Richard will address media jointly with the High Commissioner, and will also meet with other donors.
"We understand the Syrian government and OCHA have come to an agreement on the response plan and have made a series of commitments as we’ve heard this morning. We urge their immediate implementation. We remain deeply concerned about the existing humanitarian situation in the country and the potential for that situation to worsen."
The 13th Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Session is occurring from May 21 – 31 and is the beginning of the second cycle of reviews.
The United States believes the UPR has the potential to effect real change in countries throughout the world. The UPR is not just something that occurs in Geneva every four and half years. It is an ongoing, daily tool to advance human rights. Our interventions to other countries are crafted with the goal of providing useful, targeted recommendations that, when implemented, will create positive change for society.
Please click here for the United States’ interventions to the 14 countries participating in Session 13.