Statement from Dafna Rand, Mercy Corps Vice President for Policy and Research
“Last year, Congress overwhelmingly approved the bipartisan Global Fragility Act. This historic law reorients U.S. foreign policy by prioritizing peacebuilding and conflict prevention when nearly 80 million people around the world are on the run from violence, persecution and war. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated global conflict. The University of Denver’s Korbel School forecasts the pandemic will ignite conflict in 13 more countries through 2022, pushing the total number of countries experiencing conflict to 35, more than at any point over the past 30 years. A new Mercy Corps brief, drawing on observations from our program teams in more than 40 countries, provides new evidence of how COVID-19 and government responses are both aggravating existing conflicts and increasing the risk of new ones.
Facing rising violence globally, it is imperative that the U.S. government redouble efforts to implement the Global Fragility Act. While Mercy Corps appreciates the U.S. government’s effort to provide a summary report by the law’s September 15 deadline, it falls short of the statutory requirement to deliver a comprehensive Global Fragility Strategy. Most notably, this update does not include the list of priority countries and regions to receive diplomatic focus and foreign assistance over the next decade as required by the law.
At Mercy Corps, we see the consequences of conflict every day, and we know the severe costs of delaying implementation of this vital law. Every day that the law goes unimplemented is another that humanitarian needs increase. Over 550,000 civilians are dying every year in conflict affected countries, creating unprecedented levels of humanitarian suffering, and organizations like ours cannot keep pace with global need. The millions of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict worldwide cannot afford to wait any longer.”
Mercy Corps, in partnership with the Alliance for Peacebuilding, chairs the Global Fragility Act Coalition, representing 65 humanitarian, faith-based, and peacebuilding organizations. Operating in some of the world’s most complex and fragile environments, including 17 of the 20 countries ranked lowest in the 2018 Global Peace Index, Mercy Corps currently implements a peacebuilding portfolio of about $200 million through 35 programs in 18 countries.