Federal Emergency Response Working Smoothly, Puerto Rico’s Governor Says

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2017 — Puerto Rico’s governor said the commonwealth and federal team combating Hurricane Maria’s devastation is working smoothly and every resource he has asked for is either on the island or on the way.

Food, water and fuel are flowing to the people most affected by the hurricane, Gov. Ricardo Rossello told reporters during a morning news conference from San Juan.

The governor praised the federal response led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and supported by the Defense Department.

Around 10,000 people are in government shelters, he said, although that is down from 15,000 a week ago.

“We had 500 shelters, but now that is consolidated to 150,” Rossello said. “We have 11 regional staging areas throughout Puerto Rico that have been receiving food and water.”

He noted that Puerto Rico’s road system is being cleared and deliveries are being made directly to municipalities now. There are still some communities, he added, where the hurricane’s devastation has made travel difficult.

Improving Communications

And, the number of communications antennas in operation has doubled from yesterday, Rossello said. FEMA and DoD are leading this effort.

“We have 100 percent of land-line telephones working now,” Rossello said, “although we still don’t have the robust telecom network — it is at 33 percent.”

Airports and seaports are receiving shipments, said Rossello, noting Puerto Rico’s main airport is receiving 35 flights an hour and that traffic is expected to double within a week.

Opening Hospitals

Commonwealth medical experts have teamed with federal officials to examine hospitals and other medical facilities, the governor said. Part of the effort, he said, is to ensure the facilities have the fuel needed to power the generators supplying electricity. Fifty-one of the island’s 69 hospitals are open.

The improving hospital situation also points to progress on restoring the electrical grid, Rossello said, as nine hospitals now are working on external power.

Also, the hospital ship USNS Comfort is en route to Puerto Rico, the governor said.

Law enforcement officials and fire fighters from New York have arrived and they will work with Puerto Rican National Guardsmen around the island, Rossello said. Resources are also arriving from Kentucky, Alabama and Florida.

Power Generation

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working with local officials on power generation, water purification and sewage disposal since the storm hit, the governor said.

Much needs to be done on the island as it enters the recovery phase of operations, said John Rabin, the acting FEMA regional administrator.

“Everybody here is in support of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico,” Rabin said. “Our cooperation and collaboration with the entire federal family — the Department of Defense, Health and Human Services, the Department of Energy — all that is on display on the effort that we are going through every day to provide the support and response and recovery to Puerto Rico.”

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)

Soldier Credits Adaptive Sports for Recovery, Medal Wins at Invictus Games

TORONTO, Sept. 30, 2017 — Army Spc. Stephanie Morris added a gold medal in discus, a silver in shot put and a bronze in hand cycle in the women’s track and field competition in her disability category here at the 2017 Invictus Games this week.

More than 550 wounded, ill and injured service members from 17 nations compete in 12 sporting events including archery, track and field, cycling, golf, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball Sept. 23 to 30 as they are cheered on by thousands of family members, friends and spectators in the Distillery District here.

Morris, a truck driver stationed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, earned a gold medal in the women’s hand cycle in her category, a gold in wheelchair basketball, silver in sit volleyball and a bronze in shot put at the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games and gold medals in the shot put, discus, hand cycle and wheelchair basketball and a bronze in sit volleyball at the 2016 DoD Warrior Games.

Injury

Morris joined the Army to follow in her brother, Marcus Matlock’s, footsteps. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I always follow everything my brother does,” she said. Her brother served for 11 years as a communications sergeant.

Just 14 months after joining the Army as a truck driver, Morris was injured when her vehicle received indirect fire and two rocket-propelled grenades during a deployment to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, June 18, 2013.

As she went through more than 30 surgeries over three years, she made the decision in April 2016 to amputate her leg and on July 1, 2016, she had it amputated.

“At first, it was a hard to make the decision,” she said. “It was more mental for me and not knowing what to expect but when I made the decision, and it finally happened, it was like a big weight was lifted off my shoulders because I had been struggling for three years.”

She said her mother was hesitant for the amputation because she was scared for her. “She didn’t know what to expect and how I was going to react to it,” Morris said.

Adaptive Sports

Throughout high school, Morris played basketball and tennis and ran track. As she started recovering at Walter Reed, her medical providers pushed her to give adaptive sports a try, she said. Since then, she said she feels like an athlete again and enjoys competing.

“It doesn’t matter whether she wins or loses, Stephanie just likes to compete,” Stephanie’s mom, Relda Bates, said. “The games have actually helped Stephanie. She was always into sports. Stephanie was always a competitor so having the games, the Warrior Games and the Invictus Games, is something that benefits Stephanie.”

Morris said the camaraderie among the competitors from the different service branches on Team U.S. as well as with the competitors from the other nations will last a lifetime. “Everyone wants to win but at the end of the day, you build bonds with these people regardless of where you come from,” she said. “We are all going through the same battles, and you build bonds with them. It’s going to go way past Warrior Games and way past the Invictus Games. These are the people we’re going to be able to call family or to reach out to when we have a problem.”

Resiliency

Morris said she hopes people who came out to watch the Invictus Games see how resilient the wounded, ill and injured service members from all branches and nations are.

“Some people are in a dark place when they come to these types of events but then they see everybody else, and it’s uplifting for them,” she said. “They realize how much stronger they are and realize how much more they can do or they do things they never thought they would be able to do. Adaptive sports is a big part of recovery because I know, for me, without adaptive sports, I would’ve been lost.”

She tells anyone who may still be in that dark place to not be scared of getting out of their comfort zone.

“Don’t be scared to try something new because in all honesty, rather you win or lose, you’re able to push yourself and bounce back and that’s what it’s really about,” she said.

(Follow Shannon Collins on Twitter: @CollinsDoDNews)

Invictus Competitor Points to Importance of Family

TORONTO, Sept. 30, 2017 — As medically retired Army Capt. Will Reynolds added bronze medals in the men’s 1,500-meter track and field and rugby competitions in his disability category to his extensive medal collection from the Department of Defense Warrior Games and events like the 2017 Invictus Games here, he said he couldn’t have done it without his family.

“Our families are with us at our lowest points when we were wounded, ill and injured and then this is a really high point, so Invictus is a way for family members to see competitors like myself healthy again and excelling. It’s a pinnacle for our recovery and kind of a reward for the families sticking it out through the hard days, those sleepless nights in the hospital and for all those hard times,” Reynolds said. “This is a good celebration for them, too, going to the opening and closing ceremonies, attending the concerts — it’s just unbelievable.”

The Invictus Games, established by Prince Harry in 2014, brings together wounded and injured veterans from 17 nations for 12 adaptive sporting events, including track and field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, swimming, sitting volleyball, and new to the 2017 games, golf.

‘We Feel Honored’

Reynolds’ wife, Cassandra, said she’s proud of her husband. “We feel honored to be a part of these games,” she said. “It’s great to be able to participate with our whole family. Having families and caregivers here is critical because these guys are tough physically but the mental and emotional support your family is able to provide for you and just the constant, to have that network and constant, that’s really helpful.”

Will’s son, Malachi, 8, enjoys watching his dad compete. “My daddy’s awesome because he rides bikes and runs with me and plays with me,” Malachi said. “He’s the coolest. I love that he’s in the Invictus Games.”

Malachi and one of his sisters, Gabrielle, 6, both play rugby and enjoy watching their father compete in wheelchair rugby.

“I like watching him play rugby the most,” Gabrielle said.

Recovery

Reynolds served in the Army for six years as an infantry officer and rifle platoon leader. In 2004, while performing a dismounted patrol during a reconnaissance mission in southwest Baghdad in Iraq, he was injured when a remotely detonated improvised explosive devise went off.

He underwent 26 surgeries from November 2004 to December 2006 as the doctors tried to save his left leg. Eventually, his leg had to be amputated at the knee.

“When his mother first saw him, it was hard to internalize where he would be years later,” Cassandra said. “At that point, it seemed like he was going to be bed ridden for an indefinite amount of time, and he needed help with everything: eating, going to the bathroom, everything. The doctors were pretty uncertain in terms of what his ability would be to walk normally, let alone run. To see where he’s come, where he’s started from and where he’s come to now, it’s just been incredible. With the right kind of support and therapy, he was able to do all the things he wanted to do essentially.”

Reynolds’ wife said Malachi was interested in how his father’s prosthetics worked.

“He likes to help daddy put it on, so he had to be part of the process,” Cassandra said. “He would go get the leg for him or charge it.”

Reynolds said having his family interested in his therapy and recovery process and wanting to get back to his children, Malachi, Gabrielle, Genevieve and Evangeline, were the motivating factors to accelerate his recovery.

Sharon Greenhill is the mother of one of Reynolds’ best friends, former Army Capt. Dustin Greenhill, who served two tours in Iraq and is now an orthopedic surgeon. They both went to the U.S. Military Academy together and were on the gymnastics team. When Will went through the limb salvage decision process, he reached out to his friend. Sharon has been watching Will compete through the years.

“It’s always wonderful to watch Will compete and be successful,” she said. “It was a long road from the time he was injured until the time he decided it was time to let go of the leg. I remember my son telling him that his quality of life will actually be better and discussing that. It’s been a hard road for Will, going through the pain of the injury and the rehabilitation. I remember when Will was first able to go with my son to learn how to ski on the mono ski.”

She said Reynolds has been training since the minute he was able to get back on his feet. “He’s not only a world-class athlete; he’s a world-class person,” she said. “He’s an amazing human being. He’s achieved so much, academically and emotionally. He’s just a pleasure to watch develop. He was determined to not let it stop him, and it hasn’t.”

Reynolds has competed in national and international events and hopes to make the Paralympics cycling team in 2020.

Toronto

Reynolds’ mother, Evelyn, said she is excited to watch her son compete in Toronto. “It’s like my backyard because even as Will was growing up, we were in Toronto all the time,” she said. “We have very close friends who grew up with us who live here. We’ve participated in everything from engagements to weddings, so we’re very close. We love Toronto.”

Evelyn, who lives in Rochester, New York, said the Canadian community has been very hospitable. “You can’t expect better with accommodations,” she said.

“The Canadians have been very hospitable,” Cassandra said. “We’re their neighbors, and they’re our brothers in arms. We’ve had nothing but great support and help from everyone here at the games.”

Reynolds said he has enjoyed how the hotel has blocked off a couple of its floors for the athlete village for all of the competitors from all of the countries.

“The hotel has just been amazing; it’s one of the best athlete centers we’ve had,” he said. “It’s pretty cool; you go to the convenience story and you’re in a U.S. kit and people know what you’re here for. There’re banners in the city. It’s always great when you come to these big areas and there’s a lot of stuff going on but people still realize that this is an important event, too. It was like that in London, too. It’s pretty awesome to be in such a big city and people are still getting behind the event.”

Reynolds said he regularly signs autographs and photos during the DoD Warrior Games and Invictus Games.

“It happens a lot at the events, which is pretty surreal,” he said. “I don’t see myself as anybody to be giving an autograph. I’ve probably given five or six today. People bring their kids out here, pulling them out of school to support us and get them motivated by some of these great athletes so it’s kind of cool.”

Cassandra said the best part of having the competitors and families all at the same hotel is the camaraderie. “We’re listening to each other’s music, and we’re dancing and celebrating,” she said. “Even though we may not speak the same language, just through visual and body cues, we can tell we’re all here fighting the same battles and supporting each other.”

Hug a Vet

Cassandra said she hopes events like the Invictus Games will spread awareness that there’s a wounded population out there.

“There are veterans who have served their country, and they’re assimilating back into their daily lives and their community. They would love your support, be it watching them compete or just thanking them. Just hug a vet,” she said.

(Follow Shannon Collins on Twitter: @CollinsDoDNews)

Military in Puerto Rico Will Stay Until 'All Needs Are Met,' DoD Liaison Says

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2017 — Federal officials in Puerto Rico stressed today that the island has suffered catastrophic damage and that it will take time to recover from the devastation Hurricane Maria wrought upon the commonwealth.

Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, the joint force land component commander on the island, said military forces of all components are working closely with civilian authorities to serve the people of Puerto Rico.

Buchanan — the Defense Department’s liaison to the Federal Emergency Management Agency-led effort — and other officials spoke with reporters via phone from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Food, water and medicines are moving to regional support centers throughout the island, said John Rabin, the FEMA Region 2 director. “We are continuing to support the governor’s priorities of saving lives, sustaining lives, moving food and water, hospital assessments, and providing diesel fuels to hospitals. We are doing this all in partnership with the Department of Defense, our Puerto Rican colleagues, as well as all the other federal family.”

Puerto Rico National Guardsmen and active duty personnel are important in getting commodities from regional support centers to the people who need it – the so-called “last mile.”

Buchanan took command of all DoD forces working in direct support of FEMA when he arrived last night. Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson, the commander of U.S. Northern Command, had determined that it was time to switch from a maritime-based command to a land command. “We have currently 4,500 troops – it might be up to 4,600 – on the ground from all services and all components,” Buchanan said. “Our capability is building every single day, and we will keep building until we have fully met the needs of the people of Puerto Rico.”

Dual-Status Commander

Rabin said the dual-status commander structure is in place to ease command and control of National Guard Title 32 troops and active duty Title 10 forces. “We are able to put both federal and state forces together under the command and direction of one officer,” Buchanan said. “Things are working great. We have excellent unity of effort, and we can focus on meeting the peoples’ needs. It’s a total force commitment: all services, all components.”

Service members are working to clear roads and to open seaports and airports, and they are ensuring food, water and other necessities reach the people who need them the most.

Commonwealth and federal experts have assessed 69 hospitals on the island. One is deemed fully operational, 59 are functional, though partially degraded, four hospitals are closed, and five more hospitals are still undergoing assessment.

The Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort left Norfolk, Virginia, today and should arrive in Puerto Rico next week.

Eight of Puerto Rico’s nine airports are open, and five of six priority seaports are open as well. The power grid is recovering, but it is still having problems. As the grid gets electrified, more damage is spotted, and it must be fixed. The electrical grid is in worse shape on the eastern part of the island. “The transmission grid will have to be rebuilt across the whole island,” Rabin said.

Fuel deliveries have been increasing, and more than 500 service stations are open on the island. Military personnel are ensuring diesel fuel is delivered to critical nodes to keep generators going for facilities such as hospitals, command and control centers and airport control towers.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)

National Blue Ribbon Honors Announced for 342 Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today recognized 342 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2017. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

“National Blue Ribbon Schools are active demonstrations of preparing every child for a bright future,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to the honorees. “You are visionaries, innovators and leaders. You have much to teach us: some of you personalize student learning, others engage parents and communities in the work and life of your local schools and still others develop strong and forward-thinking leaders from among your teaching staff.”

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap.

This coveted award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.

Now in its 35th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed recognition on more than 8,500 schools. On Nov. 6-7, the Secretary and the Department of Education will celebrate with these honorees at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

All schools are honored in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates:

  1. Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
  2. Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s subgroups and all students over the past five years.

Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. The Department invites National Blue Ribbon School nominations from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by The Council for American Private Education (CAPE).

Note to Editors: Photographs and brief descriptions of the 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools are available at http://www.ed.gov/nationalblueribbonschools.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Launches Principles for Global Action to Tackle Stigma Associated with Sexual Violence with UN, UK Partners

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Personal Representative on Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment, Madam Jeanine Mabunda, launched the Principles for Global Action (http://APO.af/mR3RMn) to tackle the stigma of sexual violence in conflict at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York, at a program organized by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative. “This launch gives us confidence that the world is stepping up to tackle these issues and we stand in solidarity with everyone here today,” Madam Mabunda said.

On September 18th, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, and Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, spoke alongside Madam Mabunda and Kolbassia Haoussou, the co-founder of Survivors Speak Out, a UK-based survivor-led activist network.

Panelists discussed the need to end all forms of sexual violence in conflict, highlighting the importance of fighting the stigma survivors of sexual violence face worldwide. Stigma often suppresses victims into silence, perpetuating their suffering and contributing to a culture of impunity which fuels the cycle of abuse.

“Rape is the action of the perpetrator; stigma is the reaction of society. Both must change, or neither will,” said Special Representative Patten. “It is unacceptable that survivors risk being twice victimized: first by the perpetrator, then again by society and the State, which is often unresponsive, punitive and discriminatory. Aggressors understand that this crime can turn victims into outcasts, so it will rarely be reported.”

The Principles for Global Action were designed to serve as a practical guide to increase awareness of the many forms of stigma survivors of sexual violence often face, and incorporates the expertise of 13 UN Agencies, NATO, the EU Commission, civil society, NGOs, academia and the governments of Australia, Canada, France and the U.S. The guide was also informed by experiences of survivors and practitioners from 16 conflict affected countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “This is a truly global document – created and owned by us all. I am very proud to be launching it today,” said Lord Ahmad.

“Rape is still the only crime for which a society is more likely to stigmatize the victim, than to punish the perpetrator. And it is the only crime that casts a long shadow of social disgrace upon the victim. We must reverse and redirect this stigma, to send a clear signal that the only shame of rape is in committing, commanding or condoning it,” said Special Representative Patten.

“We are working to change the mindset of our society and to reduce the stigma associated with sexual violence across the DRC,” said Madam Mabunda. The Office of the Personal Representative has initiated several programs in the DRC to support this goal, including the launch of the Break the Silence campaign in Kinshasa in May 2015, which encourages citizens to report cases of sexual violence through the emergency line Number 122 and provides greater support to victims. “We are also working to shift perceptions and improve education regarding sexual violence at a grassroots level, helping to combat stigma and mobilize communities – tangible progress is being made thanks to our efforts and the support of our many partners,” said Madam Mabunda.

The full event can be watched on UN Web TV (http://APO.af/obJgpT).

Distributed by APO on behalf of The Office of the Personal Representative of the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on sexual violence and child recruitment.

For more information, please contact: Ms. Gladys Mambulu Director of Communications for the Office of the Personal Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Gladysml2001@Yahoo.fr

About The Office of the Personal Representative of the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on sexual violence and child recruitment: The Office of the Personal Representative of the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on sexual violence and child recruitment (StopDRCSexualViolence.com) leads the fight against conflict-related sexual violence and the recruitment of children in the country.

In 2014, President Joseph Kabila appointed Jeanine Mabunda to serve as Personal Representative in Charge of the Fight against Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment. Over the past three years, her office has worked to fight impunity, resource civilian and military justice systems, provide critical services to victims, empower women and girls, and mobilize society to stop sexual violence in the DRC. Jeune Afrique magazine has named her one of the 50 most influential African women and her Office action was named for the Better World Award Prize in Monaco on May 28, 2016.

HHS accelerates development of first Ebola vaccines and drugs

Hundreds of thousands of Americans could be protected from or treated for Ebola infections through the first purchase of vaccines and therapeutic drugs by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The vaccines and drugs are the first for Ebola to receive Project BioShield funding which supports late-stage development toward licensure and stockpile purchases.

“Today we are prepared to add four Ebola countermeasures to the stockpile whereas three years ago, very few products were even in early stages of development,” BARDA Director Rick Bright, Ph.D., said. “This marks a pivotal moment in U.S. and global preparedness for future public health emergencies from viral hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola. We reached this point at unprecedented speed, and that’s a direct result of innovative approaches to product development and to partnering across the U.S. government, other nations, and private industry.”

Ebola is considered a potential bioterrorism threat by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as well as a naturally occurring public health threat. Natural Ebola outbreaks occur most often in African countries, the most recent, from 2014 through 2016. According to the World Health Organization, during that outbreak more than 28,600 cases of Ebola virus infection were suspected, probable or confirmed and more than 11,000 people died.

Under the agreements announced today, BARDA will provide Project BioShield funding for each company to validate its manufacturing processes and undertake the final preparations necessary to apply for approval through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While that work is completed, BARDA can purchase the vaccines and drugs for potential use in a public health emergency.

BARDA could purchase up to 1.13 million regimens of vaccine, including a single-dose vaccine from Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, and a two-dose vaccine from Janssen Vaccines and Prevention B.V. of Leiden, The Netherlands. In addition, BARDA will purchase a therapeutic drug from Mapp Biopharmaceutical, Inc. of San Diego, California, and a therapeutic drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of Tarrytown, New York.

Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp’s single-shot vaccine would be used to protect people who are at high risk of exposure to Ebola. BARDA will provide $39.2 million for late stage development and purchase. The vaccine showed potential efficacy during testing in Guinea, West Africa, using a ring-vaccination protocol. This approach aims to stop the spread of a virus by vaccinating everyone a patient came in contact with and everyone who came in contact with the patient’s contacts.

The Public Health Agency of Canada supported the vaccine’s discovery and partnered with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Defense to fund early development. BioProtection Systems Corporation continued the vaccine’s development with support from NIAID, BARDA, DoD, and international partners. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp now will take additional steps necessary to apply for licensure of the vaccine through the FDA.

Janssen Vaccines and Prevention B.V.’s vaccine is a two-dose vaccine regimen that would be used to prevent illness in people who have not been exposed to Ebola but could be, such as health care workers and the general public. The regimen requires an initial vaccine which is protective against Ebola, followed by a second vaccine that uses different technology and boosts the body’s immune response. This two-dose approach has progressed into multiple Phase 3 studies and demonstrated efficacy in animal models.

This vaccine also received early funding from NIAID to conduct clinical studies in Guinea and Liberia and transitioned to BARDA’s advanced research and development program. Now BARDA will provide $44.7 million for late-stage development and purchase under Project BioShield.

Under the agreement with Mapp Biopharmaceutical, BARDA will initially provide $45.9 million for late-stage development and initial purchase of the therapeutic drug ZMapp™ under Project BioShield. ZMapp is a combination of three monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies bind certain proteins in the virus cell to neutralize the virus, decreasing the amount of the virus in the body that the patient’s immune system has to fight.

ZMapp was shown to reduce mortality in guinea pigs and nonhuman primates exposed to Ebola viruses. ZMapp was manufactured for a Phase 1/2 clinical trial during the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic and used to treat 36 patients with a separate control arm of 35 patients. ZMapp continues to be available and, through an expanded access protocol in the United States and West Africa, the company can collect clinical data when the product is used.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) within the Department of Defense and the NIAID supported initial work on ZMapp. To speed the drug’s development, BARDA worked closely with those agencies and then worked separately with the company to optimize and accelerate the manufacturing of ZMapp.

In addition, BARDA will initially provide $40.4 million for late-stage development and an initial purchase of REGN3470-3471-3479 from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.  Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s therapeutic is a monoclonal antibody drug manufactured using specialized CHO mammalian (Chinese hamster ovary) cells. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. used its proprietary technology to accelerate the drug’s development timeline from rapid candidate identification to large scale manufacture and can produce large quantities of the drug quickly in an emergency.

Final development and purchase of the new Ebola vaccines and therapeutic drugs under Project BioShield are part of ASPR’s efforts to prepare the nation for Ebola and other severe, highly infectious biothreats, either natural or man-made.

To provide the necessary vaccines and drugs to prevent or treat Ebola and other biothreats, BARDA maintains a comprehensive integrated portfolio approach to advanced research and development, innovation, acquisition, and manufacturing of medical countermeasures – vaccines, drugs, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products for public health emergency threats. These threats include pandemic influenza, chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents, emerging infectious diseases, and antimicrobial resistant pathogens.

ASPR and other federal agencies collaborate as a Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasure Enterprise to prioritize and develop medical countermeasures needed to save lives in disasters and public health emergencies. Through this collaborative body, potential products transition from basic research and early clinical trials at one agency, such as NIAID, to BARDA for the advanced development necessary for a private company to apply for FDA approval or licensure.

HHS is the principal federal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. ASPR leads HHS in preparing the nation to respond to and recover from adverse health effects of emergencies, supporting communities’ ability to withstand adversity, strengthening health and response systems, and enhancing national health security.

For more information on public health and medical preparedness, visit www.phe.gov and to learn more about partnering with BARDA in medical countermeasure development visit www.medicalcountermeasures.gov.

Africa: Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects for Advancing Durable Peace

(As Prepared for Delivery)

Good morning. Thank you, President Lindborg, for the kind introduction. I am grateful to you and Ambassador Carson for the invitation to participate in this important symposium on Nigeria. It is great to be back at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where each day you bring together key policy makers to engage in open dialogue on today’s most pressing issues.

Our Africa Bureau produces incredible diplomats. We have one in Don Yamamoto here today. It’s a Bureau that really works at what I consider to be the cutting edge of American diplomacy and working in a part of the world that is in a remarkable and profound state of transition and has enormous lessons in terms of peacebuilding, peacekeeping, conflict resolution, building economies, and globalization, which are incredibly important for all of us. Some of us are going to have to relearn these lessons. Our engagement in Africa is a very, very important part of that.

I was here two weeks ago to discuss the burgeoning U.S.-African partnership, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to join you this morning to continue that conversation in the context of Nigeria – one of our most important partners in Africa.

I want to acknowledge the Senior Working Group, a distinguished cohort of Nigerian civic leaders, for your efforts and commitment as peacebuilders. Your work to defuse conflicts over a range of issues from elections to land use inspires us all.

When Nigeria’s northern governors came to this institution in late 2016, the clear consensus was that addressing the war and poverty plaguing northeast Nigeria required robust initiatives for education, reconciliation, and political inclusion. I am pleased the working group here today is bringing together your collective years of experience as spiritual leaders, military commanders, journalists, election officials, human rights advocates, and educators to develop strategies to address these enduring challenges. The United States is proud to be your partner in these vital efforts.

Our Strategic Partnership

The U.S.-Nigeria partnership is rooted in the deep connections between our people. It is also rooted in our shared interests in promoting mutually beneficial trade and investment, combatting the surge of terrorism, and responding to Nigeria’s development and governance challenges.

These priorities are being addressed every day through our robust bilateral partnership. As President Trump underscored during his recent working lunch with African leaders, we cannot have economic prosperity without peace, and we cannot have sustained peace without good governance.

On the economic front, Nigeria stands apart. It is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economy, and the United States’ second largest bilateral trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria’s vibrant and dynamic economy, full of innovation and entrepreneurship, has driven its economic growth. According to Global Entrepreneurship Watch, 35 percent of Nigerians are involved in some sort of entrepreneurial activity. However, Nigeria could unleash its potential further by pursuing growth through market-based policies, not state-centered ones. A market-based approach that minimizes barriers between buyers and sellers will encourage additional investment and trade, and lighten the regulatory load on its budding entrepreneurs and investors.

A related issue to increased economic growth and investment that should remain front and center is Nigeria’s youth bulge. Nigeria is expected to become the third most-populous country in the world by 2050. It will be essential that we consider the voice of Nigeria’s youth today to ensure their leadership and commitment tomorrow. We support this engagement through the Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI, and through the more than ten thousand Nigerian students at institutions of higher learning in the United States.

On the political front, Nigeria is a recognized leader across the continent. Within West Africa, we are grateful for Nigeria’s leadership in the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, and particularly during the political transition in The Gambia in December 2016. We are also grateful for its robust peacekeeping presence on the continent from the DRC to Mali.

Nigeria’s peaceful, transparent elections in March 2015 showed the rest of Africa and the world that a complex, diverse society could conduct peaceful democratic transitions of leadership. Many of you here today played an important role during that period. As the country heads into state elections and the 2019 national elections, the United States is ready and willing to offer our technical assistance, as we have in the past.

On security issues, Nigeria is an important leader and partner in the Lake Chad Basin collaborating with its neighbors to defeat the scourge of Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa. The United States supports this and other efforts to bring security and stability to citizens affected by violence. At the United Nations last week, the U.S. government announced $54 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the Lake Chad region, bringing the total to almost $700 million over the past two years. While humanitarian support is an immediate necessity, it cannot be a long-term solution.

My meeting with the Nigerian Foreign Minister last week was a great opportunity to learn more about what else the Nigerian government is trying to accomplish on the security front. It is clear to me that Nigeria is well aware that the fight against terrorism will be won not only by the military’s conduct on the battlefield, but also by its conduct off the field. Nigeria understands that human rights abuses and impunity tarnish its international reputation, undermine the trust of its citizens, impede counterterrorism efforts, and ultimately hinder our ability to fully partner with Nigeria.

A military response alone will not lead to sustained peace in the Northeast. A holistic response is required. One that sets the conditions for the safe return of refugees and displaced persons. One where the Nigerian government works with civic leaders like we have here today to create the social and political infrastructure needed for lasting peace.

So, thank you again for the opportunity to be here this morning and for your dedication and determination to create a more peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.

Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Statements of Interest: Programs to Promote and Protect the Human Rights of Persons With Disabilities, Women and Girls, LGBTI Persons and Other Marginalized…

I. Requested Statements of Interest Objectives

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Statements of Interest (RSOI) from civil society organizations to promote and protect the human rights of marginalized populations. This request is seeking programs that take an intersectional approach to addressing violence and discrimination targeting marginalized populations, which undermine society’s collective security, and programs that provide marginalized populations with tools to prevent, mitigate and recover from violence.

Intersectional programming recognizes that multiple social identities such as gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, race or ethnicity intersect in a marginalized individual’s experience and are affected by the broader existence of privilege and oppression in society. Members of excluded and vulnerable groups share common strategies to defend their human rights, as well as to mitigate and prevent human rights abuse. They also develop strategies to address their specific needs and other variations such as age, socio-economic status, or geography that can impact them in different ways. A broader inclusivity approach values the participation of all people. It assumes that interventions will not affect all segments of society in the same way. It requires stakeholders to identify and address the difference between the opportunities and barriers to equality and to design programs in a way that does not perpetuate inequality.

DRL/GP’s Marginalized Populations programming works to advance the human rights of Persons with Disabilities, Women and Girls, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex persons and other marginalized groups. This programming supports the unique experiences and multiple social identities of individuals that impact their exclusion from society and takes an intersectional approach to program design and response.

PLEASE NOTE: DRL strongly encourages applicants to immediately access www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov in order to obtain a username and password. GrantSolutions.gov is highly recommended for all submissions and is DRL’s preferred system for receiving applications. To register with GrantSolutions.gov for the first time, Please refer to the Proposal Submission Instructions for Statements of Interest at: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.

The submission of a SOI is the first step in a two-part process. Applicants must first submit a SOI, which is a concise, 3-page concept note designed to clearly communicate a program idea and its objectives before the development of a full proposal application. The purpose of the SOI process is to allow applicants the opportunity to submit program ideas for DRL to evaluate prior to requiring the development of full proposal applications. Upon review of eligible SOIs, DRL will invite selected applicants to expand their ideas into full proposal applications.

REQUESTED STATEMENT OF INTEREST PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

DRL seeks to support programming ideas that are intersectional in addressing barriers to equality for marginalized populations. SOIs are invited from civil society organizations focused on protecting the human rights of individuals who experience marginalization because of multiple social identities and civil society organizations proposing programming with strategies of inclusion across different marginalized populations. Applicants may submit no more than one (1) SOI. To support direct and indirect costs required for implementation, DRL anticipates making award amounts of $250,000 – $450,000. Approximately $900,000 in funds are available for programs, pending funding availability. SOIs may address one focus area, or may respond to a combination of focus areas. SOI focus areas, include, but are not limited to:

  • Freedom from Violence: Individuals, organizations and communities feel safe and secure from all forms of violence, including threat, intimidation, harassment, abuse, sexual and gender-based violence, and psychological or physical harm.

    Objectives may include, but are not limited to: effective strategies to document and protect individuals whose intersectional identities disproportionately expose them to violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, bias-motivated violence and hate crimes; increased civil society cooperation with national authorities to prevent, mitigate, and respond to violence against marginalized populations; effective strategies to reduce political and electoral violence against marginalized populations; and, proactive engagement by media (new and traditional) to combat discrimination and violence against marginalized populations, including online violence.  

  • Access to Justice: The human rights of marginalized individuals are acknowledged and protected through inclusive and affirming laws and policies, which are fairly and consistently implemented and enforced, and efforts are made to reduce existing barriers to justice.

    Objectives may include, but are not limited to: improved capacity of judicial officials, lawyers and CSOs to leverage existing domestic and international legal frameworks to advance the human rights of marginalized individuals; increased collaboration among marginalized groups to advocate for the repeal, reform and replace discriminatory legislation and policy and develop inclusive legislation and policies; increased access to secure and culturally competent legal services that consider the unique needs of marginalized individuals to file criminal complaints, serve as witnesses, and claim compensation; and, increased collaboration among relevant stakeholders on advocacy to reduce impunity for perpetrators of violence and discrimination against marginalized individuals.  

  • Social Inclusion: Marginalized individuals are empowered and have full participation in political, societal and economic systems without stigma and discrimination.

    Objectives may include, but are not limited to: proactive inclusion strategies, analysis and reasonable accommodations adopted by the broader human rights community for meaningful participation by marginalized populations; increased leadership and agency of marginalized individuals across all sectors; increased support and encouragement for leadership of marginalized individuals by family members, employers, community members, religious leaders and broader society.  

  • Empowered and Inclusive Movements and Organizations: Society reflects the full diversity of the communities that it engages, and supports strong and inclusive civil society, partnerships and networks that create access, agency, skills and information for marginalized communities to advocate for social and policy change.

    Objectives may include, but are not limited to: increased cooperation, shared strategies and understanding within and among marginalized populations on promoting and protecting human rights; and, increased access to and leadership within broader human rights movements and allied communities by persons who experience multiple and intersecting forms of oppression and rights violations.

REQUESTED CROSS-CUTTING THEMES

Additionally, strong proposals are guided by the following cross-cutting values:

Gender Equality: Projects should consider the perspectives of individuals and communities based on actual or perceived biological sex, gender identity and/or expression, sexual orientation, and/or lack of adherence to varying socially constructed norms around masculinity and femininity should be considered. Interventions should be designed in ways that seek to mitigate gender inequality and discrimination. Integrating gender involves targeted gender programming, as well as gender analysis.

Locally-led:Nothing about us without us.” Programs should be led by or have strong support from and participation by local marginalized populations whose barriers to participation have led to human rights abuse and discrimination. They should involve local organizations, focus on activities at the local and community level, and make grants or sub-grants to local organizations where possible.

Organizational Development and Capacity: With the aim of creating and broadening access to marginalized populations, programming should include efforts to increase the capacity of local or regional organizations to develop and implement strategic plans, work plans, budgets, communication strategies, risk assessments, security plans and increase capacity of organizations to mobilize community members and build constituencies.

Projects should have the potential to have an immediate impact leading to long-term sustainable reforms, and should have potential for sustainability beyond DRL resources. DRL’s preference is to not duplicate past efforts, but instead support new and creative approaches. This does not exclude from consideration projects that improve upon or expand existing successful projects in a new and complementary way. DRL also strives to ensure its projects advance the rights and uphold the dignity of the most vulnerable or at-risk populations.

Activities that typically are not considered competitive include:

  • The provision of large amounts of humanitarian assistance;
  • English language instruction;
  • Development of high-tech computer or communications software and/or hardware;
  • Purely academic exchanges or fellowships;
  • External exchanges or fellowships lasting longer than six months;
  • Off-shore activities that are not clearly linked to in-country initiatives and impact or are not necessary for security concerns;
  • Theoretical explorations of human rights or democracy issues, including projects aimed primarily at research and evaluation that do not incorporate training or capacity-building for local civil society;
  • Micro-loans or similar small business development initiatives;
  • Initiatives directed towards a diaspora community rather than current residents of targeted countries.

II. Eligibility Information:

Organizations submitting SOIs must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a U.S.-based or foreign-based non-profit organization/non-governmental organization (NGO), or a public international organization; or
  • Be a private, public, or state institutions of higher education; or
  • Be a for-profit organization or business, although there are restrictions on payment of fees and/or profits under grants and cooperative agreements, including those outlined in 48 CFR 30 (“Cost Accounting Standards Administration”), 48 CFR 31 (“Contract Cost Principles and Procedures”); and
  • Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with thematic or in-country partners, entities, and relevant stakeholders including private sector partner and NGOs; and
  • Have demonstrable experience administering successful and preferably similar programs. DRL reserves the right to request additional background information on organizations that do not have previous experience administering federal awards. These applicants may be subject to limited funding on a pilot basis.

Applicants may form consortia and submit a combined SOI. However, one organization should be designated as the lead applicant with the other members as sub-award partners.

DRL’s preference is to work with non-profit entities; however, there may be occasions when a for-profit entity is best suited. For-profit entities should be aware that its application may be subject to additional review following the panel selection process, and that the Department of State generally prohibits profit under its assistance awards to for-profit or commercial organizations. Profit is defined as any amount in excess of allowable direct and indirect costs. The allowability of costs incurred by commercial organizations is determined in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) at 48 CFR 30, Cost Accounting Standards Administration, and 48 CFR 31 Contract Cost Principles and Procedures. Program income earned by the recipient must be deducted from the program’s total allowable costs in determining the net allowable costs on which the federal share of costs is based.

DRL is committed to an anti-discrimination policy in all of its programs and activities. DRL welcomes SOI submissions irrespective of an applicant’s race, ethnicity, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or other status. DRL strongly encourages applications from organizations working with the most at risk and vulnerable communities, including women, youths, persons with disabilities, members of ethnic or religious minority groups, and LGBTI persons.

No entity listed on the Excluded Parties List System in the System for Award Management (SAM) is eligible for any assistance or can participate in any activities under an award in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.” Additionally, no entity listed on the EPLS can participate in any activities under an award. All applicants are strongly encouraged to review the EPLS in SAM to ensure that no ineligible entity is included.

Organizations are not required to have a valid Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number, formerly referred to as a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number, and an active SAM.gov registration to apply for this solicitation through GrantSolutions.gov. However, if a SOI is approved, these will need to be obtained before an organization is able to submit a full application.

III. Application Requirements, Deadline, and Technical Eligibility

All SOIs must conform to DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) for Statements of Interest, as updated in August 2016, available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.

Complete SOI submissions must include the following:

1. Completed and signed SF-424 and SF424B, as directed on GrantSolutions.gov or Grants.gov (please refer to DRL’s PSI for SOIs for guidance on completing the SF-424); and,

2. Program Statement (not to exceed three [3] pages in Microsoft Word) that includes:

a) A table listing:

i. The target country/countries;

ii. The total amount of funding requested from DRL, total amount of cost-share (if any), and total program amount (DRL funds + cost-share); and,

iii. Program length;

b) A synopsis of the program, including a brief statement on how the program will have a demonstrated impact and engage relevant stakeholders. The SOI should identify local partners as appropriate;

c) A concise breakdown explicitly identifying the program’s objectives and the activities and expected results that contribute to each objective; and,

d) A brief description of the applicant(s) that demonstrates the applicant(s) expertise and capacity to implement the program and manage a U.S. government award.

Technically eligible SOIs are those which:

1) Arrive electronically via GrantSolutions.gov or Grants.gov by 11:30 p.m. ET on October 27, 2017 under the announcement title “Promote and Protect the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Women and Girls, LGBTI persons and other Marginalized Individuals” funding opportunity number “DRLA-DRLAQM-17-089”;

2) Are in English;

3) Heed all instructions and do not violate any of the guidelines stated in this solicitation and the PSI for Statements of Interest.

For all SOI documents please ensure:

1) All pages are numbered;

2) All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper; and,

3) All documents are single-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins. Captions and footnotes may be 10-point Times New Roman font. Font sizes in charts and tables can be reformatted to fit within one page width.

Grants.gov and Grantsolutions.gov automatically logs the date and time a submission is made, and the Department of State will use this information to determine whether it has been submitted on time. Late submissions are neither reviewed nor considered unless the DRL point of contact listed in section VI is contacted prior to the deadline and is provided with evidence of system errors caused by www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov that is outside of the prospective applicants’ control and is the sole reason for a late submission. Prospective applicants should not expect a notification upon DRL receiving their SOI. It is the sole responsibility of the prospective applicant to ensure that all of the material submitted in the SOI submission package is complete, accurate, and current. DRL will not accept SOIs submitted via email, fax, the postal system, or delivery companies or couriers. DRL strongly encourages all prospective applicants to submit SOIs before October 27, 2017 to ensure that the SOI has been received and is complete.

IV. Review and Selection Process

The Department’s Office of Acquisitions Management (AQM) will determine technical eligibility for all SOI submissions. All technically eligible SOIs will then be reviewed against the same three criteria by a DRL Review Panel, which includes quality of program idea/inclusivity of marginalized populations, program planning, and ability to achieve objectives/institutional capacity. Additionally, the Panel will evaluate how the SOI meets the solicitation request, U.S. foreign policy goals, and the priority needs of DRL overall. Panelists review each SOI individually against the evaluation criteria, not against competing SOIs. To ensure all SOIs receive a balanced evaluation, the DRL Review Panel will review the first page of the SOI up to the page limit and no further. All Panelists must sign non-disclosure agreements and conflict of interest agreements.

In most cases, the DRL Review Panel includes representatives from DRL policy and program offices. Once a SOI is approved, selected applicants will be invited to submit full proposal applications based on their SOIs. Unless directed otherwise by the organization, DRL may also refer SOIs for possible consideration in other U.S. government related funding opportunities.

The Panel may provide conditions and/or recommendations on SOIs to enhance the proposed program, which must be addressed by the organization in the full proposal application. To ensure effective use of limited DRL funds, conditions and recommendations may include requests to increase, decrease, clarify, and/or justify costs and program activities.

DRL’s Front Office reserves the right to make a final determination regarding all funding matters, pending funding availability.

Review Criteria

Quality of Program Idea/Inclusivity of Marginalized Populations

SOIs should be responsive to the solicitation, appropriate in the country/regional context, and should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to DRL’s mission of promoting human rights and democracy. DRL prefers creative approaches that do not duplicate efforts by other entities. This does not exclude from consideration programs that improve upon or expand existing successful programs in a new and complementary way. DRL strives to ensure its programs advance the rights and uphold the dignity of the most at-risk and vulnerable populations, including women, youth, people with disabilities, members of racial and ethnic or religious minority groups, and LGBTI persons. To the extent possible and appropriate, applicants should identify and address considerations to support and/or include these populations in all proposed program activities and objectives. Strong justification should be provided if the most at-risk and vulnerable populations will not be included in the proposed activities and objectives. Otherwise, SOIs that do not address the above will not be considered highly competitive in this category.

Program Planning

A strong SOI will include a clear articulation of how the proposed program activities and expected results (both outputs and outcomes) contribute to specific program objectives and the overall program goal. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable, results-focused, and achievable in a reasonable time frame.

Ability to Achieve Objectives/Institutional Capacity

SOIs should address how the program will engage relevant stakeholders and should identify local partners as appropriate. If local partners are identified, applicants should describe the division of labor among the applicant and any local partners. SOIs should demonstrate the organization’s expertise and previous experience in administering programs, preferably similar programs targeting the requested program area or similarly challenging environments.

For additional guidance, please see DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) for Statements of Interest, as updated in August 2016, available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.

V. Additional Information

DRL will not consider SOIs that reflect any type of support for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization.

Project activities whose direct beneficiaries are foreign militaries or paramilitary groups or individuals will not be considered for DRL funding given purpose limitations on funding.

DRL requires U.S. government Risk Analysis Management vetting of all individuals programming in certain countries, which may include the board of directors from grantee and sub-award organizations, program staff, and any program participants receiving direct assistance through grant funds. Depending on the type of vetting, the required information requested may include for each individual: The required information for each individual submission includes full name, date of birth, place of birth, nationality, a government issued ID number (drivers licenses are not accepted for any country; if the individual is a U.S. person, a SSN is required), and one piece of contact information (phone number, email address, or Skype account (if Skype is submitted an email must accompany it)). Please keep these vetting requirements in mind when designing each program.

Restrictions may apply to any proposed assistance to police or other law enforcement. Among these, pursuant to section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (FAA), no assistance provided may be furnished to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country when there is credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights. In accordance with the requirements of section 620M of the FAA, also known as the Leahy law, program beneficiaries or participants from a foreign government’s security forces may need to be vetted by the Department before the provision of any assistance.

Organizations should be aware that DRL understands that some information contained in SOIs may be considered sensitive or proprietary and will make appropriate efforts to protect such information. However, organizations are advised that DRL cannot guarantee that such information will not be disclosed, including pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or other similar statutes.

Organizations should also be aware that if ultimately selected for an award, the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards set forth in 2 CFR Chapter 200 (Sub-Chapters A through F) shall apply to all non-Federal entities, except for assistance awards to Individuals and Foreign Public Entities. Please note that as of December 26, 2014, 2 CFR 200 (Sub-Chapters A through E) now applies to foreign organizations, and Sub-Chapters A through D shall apply to all for-profit entities. The applicant/recipient of the award and any sub-recipient under the award must comply with all applicable terms and conditions, in addition to the assurance and certifications made part of the Notice of Award. The Department’s Standard Terms and Conditions can be viewed on DRL’s Resources page at: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c72333.htm.

The information in this solicitation and DRL’s PSI for SOIs, as updated in August 2016, is binding and may not be modified by any DRL representative. Explanatory information provided by DRL that contradicts this language will not be binding. Issuance of the solicitation and negotiation of SOIs or applications does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the U.S. government. DRL reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program evaluation requirements.

This solicitation will appear on www.grants.gov, www.grantsolutions.gov, and DRL’s website http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.

Background Information on DRL and general DRL funding

DRL is the foreign policy lead within the U.S. government on promoting democracy and protecting human rights globally. DRL supports programs that uphold democratic principles, support and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, prevent atrocities, combat and prevent violent extremism, and build civil society around the world. DRL typically focuses its work in countries with egregious human rights violations, where democracy and human rights advocates are under pressure, and where governments are undemocratic or in transition.

Additional background information on DRL and the human rights report can be found on www.state.gov/j/drl and www.humanrights.gov.

VI. Contact Information

GrantSolutions.gov Help Desk:

For assistance with GrantSolutions.gov accounts and technical issues related to using the system, please contact Customer Support at help@grantsolutions.gov or call 1-866-577-0771 (toll charges for international callers) or 1-202-401-5282. Customer Support is available

8:00 AM – 5:00 PM ET, Monday – Friday, except federal holidays.

Grants.gov Helpdesk:

For assistance with Grants.gov accounts and technical issues related to using the system, please call the Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or email support@grants.gov. The Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except federal holidays.

See https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/snow-dismissal-procedures/federal-holidays/ for a list of federal holidays.

For technical questions related to this solicitation, please contact Melissa Dymek, DymekMB@state.gov

With the exception of technical submission questions, during the solicitation period U.S. Department of State staff in Washington and overseas shall not discuss this competition until the entire review process has been completed and rejection and approval letters have been transmitted.

President Donald J. Trump is Taking a Responsible and Humanitarian Approach on Refugees

“Maintaining strong borders is a vital component of any security policy, and a responsible approach to refugees is one that seeks the eventual return of refugees to their home countries so that they can help to rebuild their own nations.” – President Donald J. Trump

AMERICA FIRST REFUGEE PROGRAM: President Donald J. Trump has established the annual cap for refugees coming into the United States at a level that upholds the safety of the American people.

  • President Trump has determined that up to 45,000 refugees may be admitted into the United States in Fiscal Year 2018.
    • This decision, which is made annually, is determined after consulting with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the national security team.
    • With this new ceiling, the United States will continue to permanently resettle more refugees than any other country and we will continue to offer protection to the most vulnerable, including those who have been persecuted because of race, political opinion, nationality, religion, or membership in a particular social group.
  • The new ceiling is designed to accommodate additional vetting procedures now under review that will enable the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, the National Counter Terrorism Center, and other agencies to thoroughly and safely process applicants for potential threats to public safety and national security.
    • The decision reflects the need to concentrate limited resources on the approximately 270,000 aliens who have applied for asylum but have not been properly vetted, and are already present in the United States.
  • Pursuant to section 6 of Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” the United States Government is taking additional steps to enhance the screening of individuals seeking admission as refugees in order to improve the safety and security of the United States. Although the review required by section 6 of Executive Order 13780 is still underway, relevant agencies have already started strengthening the vetting process used in the Refugee Admissions Program.

STRENGTHENING NATIONAL SECURITY: President Donald J. Trump is taking the responsible approach to promote the safety of the American people.

  • Some refugees who have been admitted to the United States have posed threats to national security and public safety.
  • As of February 2017, more than 300 individuals who were initially admitted to the United States as refugees were under FBI investigation for potential ties to suspected terrorists.
    • Since 2011, there have been at least 20 admitted refugees who have been arrested or removed from the United States based on terrorism investigations.
    • In 2016, a Somali refugee attacked 11 Americans at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
  • Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, approximately two dozen individuals who had been admitted to the United States as refugees have been removed or arrested and convicted of terrorism-related offenses. In February, the President met with local sheriffs at the White House to hear their concerns, including those about refugees who were resettled in their communities without local input.
    • President Trump believes in enhancing existing efforts to work closely with State and local leaders to help build community trust in refugee resettlement efforts while also determining the best placement of resettled refugees in the United States.

FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS: Increasing refugee resettlement increases financial strain on Americans, when the best policy is to keep refugees in their region of origin whenever possible.

  • One primary goal of United States refugee policy is to enable refugees to ultimately return home, where they can be reunited with friends and family and help rebuild their communities.
  • For the cost of permanently resettling one refugee in the United States, the Government could resettle 12 refugees in safe zones overseas, closer to their home countries, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spent more than $96 billion on programs supporting or benefitting refugees between 2005 and 2014.
  • HHS surveys from the Obama Administration show that 45% of refugees arriving between 2011 and 2015 were receiving cash assistance, 49% were receiving Medicaid, and that nearly 75% were receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
  • Under current law, once a person is admitted to the United States as a refugee, he or she is immediately authorized to work in the United States.

WORLD LEADER IN HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS: America continues to lead the way in worldwide refugee efforts, both in financial contributions and resettlement.

  • As stated in the G20 Leaders’ Declaration, “we commit to addressing the distinct needs of refugees and migrants, in particular close to their region of origin and, when applicable, to enable them to return home safely.”
  • The United States is the number one contributor to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, giving some $1.2 billion this year. And we continue to be the leading donor to other agencies that provide life-saving support to refugees and conflict victims, including the World Food Program, the Red Cross Movement and UNICEF.
  • Since 1975, the United States has welcomed more than 3 million refugees from all over the world, and each year typically admits nearly two-thirds of the world’s refugees that are resettled in a third country, more than all other countries combined.
    • Every year, the United States provides more than one million immigrants from more than 150 countries with permanent residency and grants citizenship to half of one million individuals.
    • The primary objective of the United States refugee policy is to help protect refugees and help support durable solutions for refugees, including by safely returning them home.