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WASHINGTON, DC — International aid organization Oxfam America congratulates President-elect Barack Obama on his hard-fought election victory and calls on him to reaffirm a US leadership role in fighting global poverty and social injustice, and in addressing humanitarian issues. The US Presidential election signifies an important departure from the recent past and a clear call for change in how the United States engages the global community.
"We are hopeful that we will see decisive and early action in the new administration to re-engage with the international community, lead the fight against global poverty, and create positive long-term change that will result in a more prosperous, secure world for all," said Oxfam America President Raymond C. Offenheiser. "At a time when the US economy is in trouble and Americans are overwhelmingly concerned about their own economic health, reforming foreign aid could increase its effectiveness without additional cost."
Oxfam America encourages the President-elect to follow through on commitments to help the global poor, who are least responsible for climate change, deal with its consequences. Oxfam warns that climate change is likely to increase economic and social instability, migration and refugee crises, and conflict over natural resources, and is quickly becoming a major driver of poverty and instability around the world.
"Addressing the impacts of global warming on poor communities in the US and abroad must be a priority for the Obama administration," said Offenheiser. "It is essential that the President-elect re-engage in the ongoing international negotiations for a post-2012 agreement on climate change that includes significant cuts in emissions, and funding to assist developing countries adapt to climate impacts. Forging the next international climate agreement cannot be done without the US."
Oxfam urges the President-elect to attend the forthcoming international climate change negotiations in Poznan, Poland or, at the very least, send a high-level representative to signal to the world that the US is ready to lead on climate change.
In addition, Oxfam also urges the President-elect to help bring about strong US climate legislation that not only dramatically cuts US emissions, but also provides significant assistance to the most poor and vulnerable communities.
As a number of conflicts still ravage civilian populations around the world, Oxfam encourages the Obama administration to lead the world by building capable institutions, prioritizing the protection of civilians in its foreign assistance programs, and cooperating with allies to remove obstacles to peace and stability.
"The new administration has the opportunity to protect and assist civilians by acting much more quickly to tackle prolonged conflicts and prevent new ones," said Offenheiser. "Upon taking office, President-elect Obama must build a 21st century State Department by doubling the number of core diplomatic personnel and moving more personnel to potential and ongoing conflict zones."
Closer to home, Oxfam America also encourages President-elect Obama to revisit the failed recovery of the Gulf Coast following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"Despite three years of effort, the continued lack of affordable housing and the continued failure to ensure decent jobs provide stark proof of the failure of the Bush administration to adequately meet the needs of those who were impacted by this tragedy. This failure to respond to the desperate calls of Americans in need cannot continue," said Offenheiser. "President-elect Obama can restore faith in the ability of government to help those in need by helping to provide quality jobs and affordable housing for the low and moderate income families still unable to return to their former lives."
"We look forward to working with President-elect Obama and his administration and are encouraged that his leadership will help improve the plight of millions of people who suffer from hunger, violence and injustice around the world," said Offenheiser.