Barack H. Obama
United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of Refugees International, I write to highlight the ongoing displacement crisis in the Horn of Africa and urge you, in your upcoming State of the Union Address, to showcase U.S. leadership on this issue and the need for sustained, high-level attention to the plight of those impacted by drought and famine.
At the National Press Club today, members of the Partnership for Effective Peacekeeping (PEP) unveiled their new report, "US Engagement in International Peacekeeping: From Aspiration to Implementation." RI was proud to co-host the event with our other PEP partners, the Better World Campaign and Citizens for Global Solutions.
It has been a big week for those of us working on Pakistan. New attention on the intensely fractured relationship between the US and Pakistan has led to questions about the fate of current and planned aid packages- with emphasis on the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act (or the Kerry-Lugar Act).
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama focused, as is custom, essentially on domestic issues, support for America’s troops and the key challenges ahead. His reference to foreign policy was brief, but he began with a welcome call for “a new level of engagement in our foreign affairs.”
American leadership on international issues has long been an essential component to promoting peace and stability worldwide. For example, the President rightly extolled America’s efforts in driving and supporting the process that has led to the remarkably peaceful referendum in Sudan. This is no small accomplishment given the checkered recent past of the country.
There is no doubt that thousands of Haitians are suffering from an enormous disaster that warrants a strong international humanitarian response. Refugees International supports the relief efforts underway, as it’s clear that immediate humanitarian assistance is critical. In the coming weeks and months we hope the crisis will stabilize, allowing for longer-term thinking about reconstruction and development. As Haiti moves away from this tragic event toward a brighter future, countries and aid groups must remain engaged and committed. Anything less may result in a protracted or chronic humanitarian crisis for the people of Haiti.