USAID office is closed in Belarus

Illustration: US Embassy
3 mins

На русском языке: В Беларуси закрывают офис USAID
На беларускай мове: У Беларусі закрываюць офіс USAID

Julia Fisher, U.S. Special Envoy for Belarus, issued a statement on attempts to impede U.S. programs in the field of international development and public diplomacy in Belarus. This is stated on the website of the Embassy.

Fisher notes that on October 20, Belarusian authorities informed the United States about new measures aimed at obstructing the work of the US Embassy in Minsk. Thus, the public relations office of the Embassy and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), including the American Center in Minsk, was forcibly closed. As a result, the embassy is forced to dismiss more than 20 Belarusian employees.

«These actions reflect the deep concern of the Belarusian authorities about the role of diplomacy, people-to-people relations and independent civil society. The United States will not back down from its commitment to promote democracy and human rights in Belarus and to support the aspirations of the Belarusian people to build a more promising future in a free and independent Belarus, and these recent measures will not force us to abandon our work of informing and engaging with people that benefited the Belarusian people and contributed to the development of relations between the citizens of our countries»,– Fisher said.

Svetlana Tihanovskaya in her Twitter expressed regret about the situation and wrote: «They will return to the new Belarus. I ask you to continue working for Belarusians – we see and appreciate this consistent support».

The closure of the USAID office in Belarus was also commented on by Ned Price, the official representative of the US State Department, who believes that this reflects the deep insecurity of the official Belarusian authorities in diplomacy, people-to-people relations, openness and civil society.

Samantha Power, USAID Administrator for Belarus, issued a statement in which she noted that USAID has been investing in the health, dignity and prosperity of Belarusians for more than twenty years and now this work is under threat due to the actions of the Belarusian authorities.

«Despite the extremely repressive measures of the Belarusian authorities, the citizens of Belaurs remain unswerving in their calls for a democratic government that respects human rights. USAID will continue to support the people of Belarus and will continue to support programs to develop civil society and expand economic opportunities for Belarusians»,– the statement said.

Since 1999, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed to the establishment of Belarus as a democratic state with a market economy, the development of Belarusian civil society, the private sector and local communities. In the mid-2000s, it made a significant contribution to the health of families living in areas affected by radiation. Economic growth programmes have contributed to the strengthening and development of the private sector, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as to an enabling business environment. One of the areas of work was related to the assistance of Belarus in the fight against human trafficking and the provision of financial support to the victims. From 2005 to 2015, USAID programs also helped prevent child abuse. One of the activities contributed to the expansion of the participation of people with disabilities in the social and economic life of local communities through programs to support people with disabilities and strengthening the ability of public organizations to promote the rights and interests of people with disabilities.

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