UNITED STATES AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Office of Press Relations
For Immediate Release
October 29, 2021
STATEMENT BY USAID ADMINISTRATOR SAMANTHA POWER
U.S. Government Operations in Belarus
The Government of Belarus informed the United States on October 20 that it will force the closure of the Embassy’s Public Diplomacy and USAID offices in Minsk, effective November 20. Belarusian authorities aim to severely disrupt U.S. development assistance and public diplomacy in Belarus by forcing the closure of facilities that house key U.S. Government operations, and by ending employment of all of USAID’s local staff and Department of State public diplomacy staff.
The USAID local staff affected by this decision are not only skilled development professionals, but dedicated public servants committed to improving life for their fellow citizens. They have helped thousands of Belarusians create valuable private businesses, including through guiding policy reforms that allowed startups in Belarus to thrive, with some enterprises going on to secure over $1 billion of private investment. USAID’s local staff have worked diligently to ensure Belarusians could receive professional development opportunities including through international exchange programs to the United States. Many alumni of these programs went on to build civil society organizations and initiatives supporting journalism, youth engagement, environmental protection and more in Belarus. USAID’s local staff undertook efforts to help Belarusians with disabilities obtain meaningful employment, and helped reform legislation to better protect and support these populations. Working with their American colleagues, USAID’s Belarusian staff were committed to helping all Belarusians improve their lives. Though the Lukashenka regime has now chosen to prevent our staff from working, their contributions to the Belarusian people are lasting.
This latest escalation from the Lukashenka regime further demonstrates its callous disregard of the interests of the Belarusian people. For more than twenty years, USAID has invested in their health, dignity, and prosperity. This critical work for the benefit of the people of Belarus is now in jeopardy as a result of the Belarusian authorities’ actions.
Despite the extremely repressive measures of the Belarusian authorities, the citizens of Belarus have remained steadfast in their calls for a democratic government that respects human rights. USAID will continue to stand alongside the people of Belarus, and continue to support programs to foster civic engagement and to expand economic opportunities for Belarusians. We remain committed to a partnership that generates new opportunities for citizens to live with dignity and self-determination in the face of authoritarianism.