Remarks at a UN High-Level Meeting on Hurricane Irma

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
September 18, 2017


Thank you, Mr. President of the General Assembly and Mr. Secretary-General. On behalf of the people and government of the United States, I want to express our sincere condolences to all those affected by Hurricane Irma. The destruction, devastation and loss is an unspeakable tragedy. As you know, the U.S. has also been impacted by Hurricane Irma and by Hurricane Harvey. In our own country, we are heartened to see the generosity and compassion that Americans have shown each other in the wake of these unprecedented storms. And, it is this same American spirit that drives the U.S. Government’s international disaster responses.

As we are witnessing across the United States, it is a core American value to help those in need, and our bilateral assistance agency – USAID – proudly works on behalf of the American people. The humanitarian assistance we provide abroad represents the best of American support and solidarity. To date, USAID has committed over $1.2 million dollars to assist those affected by Hurricane Irma. We are working in close coordination with local officials on the ground in hard-hit St. Martin, Antigua and Barbuda, and The Bahamas to support response efforts. For example, with USAID support, the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross is distributing locally-purchased hygiene kits. USAID is also providing assistance to The Bahamas Red Cross to distribute relief supplies. In St. Martin, at the request of the governments, we are working with the U.S. Department of Defense to bring unique capabilities to restore access to water and to assess damage. Preparedness and disaster risk reduction are critical to saving lives.

In addition to prepositioning supplies for emergency response, USAID has a long history of working with communities to strengthen their ability to respond to emergencies – make themselves more resilient to disasters and better able to handle their impacts. How reconstruction and recovery are approached will be critical to building resilience – communities must be able to mitigate, recover and adapt to crises.

Let me conclude by saying – to those also affected by Hurricane Irma and by the follow-on events – we continue to stand with you in solidarity, as we, too, assess the damage to life and property caused by Hurricane Irma here in the United States.

Thank you.