Africa: USAID, Islamic Conference to Cooperate On Humanitarian Aid

Washington — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) agreed on March 15 to strengthen cooperation on humanitarian issues and disaster response. In a ceremony at the White House, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu signed a memorandum of understanding to mark the partnership milestone.

“USAID is at the global forefront of humanitarian assistance and response,” said Shah. “Last year alone, we dispatched aid in the aftermath of 67 disasters in 54 countries, providing relief to millions, saving countless lives and building resilience against future emergencies. But we can’t do it alone — our partners include American businesses, other donor nations and nongovernmental and international organizations like the OIC, who are critical in our efforts.”

The new partnership, USAID said, is a reflection of the need for greater cooperation among organizations that provide relief as the number of humanitarian emergencies rise worldwide. The March 15 agreement outlines a framework for cooperation that includes mutual consultations and strategic dialogue, exchange of information, participation in disaster response and training, operational support and facilitation and coordination, the agency said.

“Creating partnerships among the international humanitarian community is integral to the OIC humanitarian strategy,” said Ihsanoglu. “It is a natural fit that the OIC and USAID cooperate based on our similar values in performing humanitarian aid work.”

USAID said it shares a deep commitment to humanitarian principles with OIC and, working together, the two will provide better, smarter relief to millions of people in need.

In a blog post on the USAID website, Nancy Lindborg, USAID assistant administrator for democracy, conflict, and humanitarian assistance, said, “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, Lindborg said, 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,” she wrote.

“With this formalized partnership,” Lindborg added, “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.

The OIC, with administrative headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is the world’s second-largest intergovernmental organization (after the United Nations) with 57 member states spread over four continents. The United States provides more humanitarian aid worldwide than any other nation.

Source: All Africa.Com – 20 March 2012