June 13, 2018
MR. FERGUSON: Chairman Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member Deutch, and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the President’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget request for the Middle East and North Africa. And thank you for your leadership on this Subcommittee. I am pleased to appear alongside Acting Assistant Secretary Satterfield.
The Middle East and North Africa remain a key focus of U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities, particularly as we continue to fight against violent extremists. Despite the complex political, humanitarian, and development challenges in the region, we see opportunities for USAID’s work in stabilization, economic and social development, and in protecting vulnerable communities.
As you heard from Administrator Green in April, USAID’s goal is to end the need for foreign assistance. There is no surer path to self-reliance than helping governments be more responsive to their citizens and more accountable in the management of public resources. To that end, the FY 2019 request will support democracy assistance programs that remain a fundamental element of how we help countries address critical development challenges.
At USAID, we stand in solidarity with the people of the Middle East and North Africa as they work to build a stable, more prosperous future. With your support, our FY 2019 request of $1.7 billion for economic and development programs will help secure the enduring defeat of ISIS, further strategic partnerships, promote good governance, and encourage stability and economic security.
The impact of the Syrian crisis and ISIS has spread to neighboring regions and countries, especially Jordan. Jordan is host to more than 660,000 registered Syrian refugees, who have a significant impact on host communities. With our FY 2019 request, we will continue to work with the Health and Education Ministries to ensure that Jordanian communities, including refugees, have access to the same quality of services. Additionally, we support — in support of our nearly eight-decade partnership with the Kingdom of Jordan, our FY 2019 assistance will help Jordan accelerate inclusive economic growth, improve delivery of public services, and promote more efficient management of scarce resources, particularly water. Our commitment to Jordan is evidenced by the new, five-year MOU we signed in February.
In Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, USAID assistance will continue to work with local government structures, provide tangible economic and educational opportunities for youth, partner with private businesses to create jobs, and support sustainable economic reform. For example, we currently assist private companies in addressing the critical issues of unemployment and underemployment, particularly among young people.
In Yemen, the humanitarian crisis continues to deteriorate in the absence of lasting a political solution (inaudible). As a major donor, we are keenly aware of the importance of humanitarian assistance and commercial goods, that include food and fuel, which moves through the Hudaydah Port, and are determined to ensure they are not disrupted. As Secretary Pompeo reiterated earlier this week, we expect all parties to honor their commitment to work with the United Nations and support a political process to resolve the conflict, ensure humanitarian access to the Yemeni people, and map a stable political future for Yemen. USAID is in the process of scaling up (inaudible) country on a path to recovery and create the conditions for lasting peace.
More details about USAID’s plans for specific areas are in my written statement for the record. Before I close, however, I would like to mention one —
REPRESENTATIVE ROS-LEHTINEN: Would you like to put something in the record?
MR. FERGUSON: I’m sorry?
REPRESENTATIVE ROS-LEHTINEN: Did you say that you wanted to put something —
MR. FERGUSON: That more details or plans will be included in my written testimony that will be submitted. However, before I close, I would like to mention one Administration priority — the protection of religious and ethnic minorities who have suffered unspeakable harm in recent years, including genocide, crimes against humanity, and other atrocities. At the President and Vice President’s direction, USAID is now redoubling its efforts to identify, deliver, and distribute the aid that Iraq’s persecuted communities desperately need. Our commitment to these communities is steadfast.
When minorities are attacked, we rally local and international civil society and the private sector to join us. We strive to ensure their safety, food security, and livelihoods, and to find them a place to call home for now and ultimately secure their return. We have already channeled tens of millions of dollars to the region, but we know the need is far greater, and that we must do more to meet the urgent needs of these endangered populations — and we will. This month, Administrator Green will travel to Iraq to meet leaders from the sufferings communities to personally assure them that assistance will soon turn an inconsistent trickle to a steady stream.
With the FY19 request, USAID will continue its assistance to these vulnerable communities, particularly religious and ethnic minorities in the Ninewa Plains and Sinjar region. Protecting people’s rights to choose their own beliefs and culture has been at the core of our nation’s values since its founding.
I thank the Subcommittee for its continued recognition of the importance of this work, and for your steadfast support. Thank you for inviting me to testify today and I look forward to your questions.