The United States has always been committed to providing assistance to those around the world in the midst of crisis. Last year alone, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) dispatched aid in the aftermath of 67 disasters in 54 countries, saving countless lives and bringing much needed relief to millions who lost loved ones, homes, and livelihoods. From the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan to the most severe drought in 60 years in the Horn of Africa, USAID is there and making a difference on behalf of the American people every day.
But we never do it alone. Working in support of the host nation’s relief efforts, our partners include American businesses, other donor nations, local aid organizations, as well as international and non-governmental organizations. Our partnerships allow us to maximize our assistance, even as international crises grow more frequent and more complex.
Today at the White House, the United States marked a significant partnership milestone. USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), signed a Memorandum of Understanding that further strengthens our cooperation on humanitarian issues and disaster response.
The OIC is a leader with the Islamic community of states for implementation of humanitarian programs and a particularly important partner for the United States Government in areas of conflict where access is limited. In the severe drought in the Horn of Africa, the OIC Humanitarian Alliance was instrumental in the international effort to get critical humanitarian assistance to the people of Somalia and improve conditions in Mogadishu and the surrounding areas.
USAID and the OIC not only share a deep commitment to humanitarian principles, but also recognize the critical need to help communities build resilience before disaster strikes. Working together, USAID and the OIC will be more effective, reach more people in need, and have a stronger impact.
With this formalized partnership, we enhance our ability to respond to a host of humanitarian crises—from the Sahel, to Syria, to Yemen. This partnership will help both organizations provide better, smarter humanitarian relief, and we look forward to working together to save lives and improve human welfare – one of the most important, meaningful missions in the world.