ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Welcome. I want to thank President Biden and President Duda for gathering us today. And for all of the humanitarian leaders here who have joined us.
You all have devoted your lives to springing into action whenever you see human suffering. But it’s fair to say, I think, that none of us have ever seen the speed and the scale of this destruction in our lifetimes. It took a little over four years for four million refugees to flee the Syrian War. Ukraine could reach that number four days from now—just over a month since the war began.
So much of what we have seen up until now has been unthinkable. A brutal Russian war against the Ukrainian people that Putin had claimed were Russia’s brothers and sisters. An exodus not seen since World War II. But, just as all of these things felt unthinkable weeks ago, so too has the unity of the global response – on everything from sanctions to overwhelming UN condemnations to the flood of public support for the people of Ukraine.
If I could make one point ahead of today’s conversation, it’s to not let what we have always done in humanitarian responses constrain what we can do now for—and with—Ukraine. The imagination shown in the world’s diplomatic efforts in the run up and duration of this war has been remarkable, thanks to the leadership of President Biden, Secretary Blinken, and European allies like President Duda. And if we want to help the Ukrainian people at a time of tremendous suffering and need, we need to muster the creativity, the will, and the resources to meet staggering needs. Because while we have not seen a crisis quite like this, we have seen the Russian tactics of siege and starvation before—in Grozny, in Aleppo, and as we speak in Mariupol.
We look forward to hearing about your efforts to scale up, and what we can do to help support and supercharge them. I know that President Biden shares that urgency and an abiding commitment to support the life-saving work that you are leading. Over his many decades of public service, President Biden has been a champion for the work of humanitarians—as well as a long-standing vocal, tireless supporter of the people of Ukraine, visiting the country six times when he was Vice President.
Together with our allies and all of you, he has spent the last many months preparing for—and mobilizing the world—to rally a humanitarian response at a scale and speed unlike any I have ever seen. And that includes the announcement yesterday of one billion dollars in new funding. He has a deep understanding of the human toll of conflict.
That commitment to humanity, to basic dignity, is a core part of who President Biden is and why I am so grateful to serve under him and to be here with him today.
With that, it is my honor to introduce Joseph R. Biden, the 46th President of the United States.