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Public Statements

NBC Today Show Transcript

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NBC's Today Show
Sally Field and Christine Knudsen of Save The Children and Senator Joe Biden discuss protecting women and children as casualties of war

Senator JOE BIDEN (Democrat, Delaware): Let me give you an example, Katie. There's 20 million people who are either displaced persons, a fancy term for meaning the casualties of civil war, or refugees, meaning they came across the border, and they're in camps. And—and what happens is there are billions of dollars worldwide to spend for food, clothing and shelter, but that's only the start.

You have women and children in those camps without any protection and they find them—so let me give you an example. In Kenya, the Somalis who have left Somalia because of that war are into Kenya, they're in camps. They need firewood, these women and children, to be able to cook their food. There's not enough firewood, so they go out of the camp area. And they find them, they get raped, and they get brutalized by the local male population. So this legislation we're passing would provide money for them to be able to just buy firewood in the camp.

It sounds silly, but it's the little tiny things where women and children get victimized not only by the war, they get victimized after the war when they're put in a position where we're supposed to be protecting them. And as you just heard, we also have money in this legislation for these microenterprise zones, to take some of the women in these camps and give them very little amounts of money to be able to start their own microbusiness. For example, they do wash for the whole camp, they can make money. We provide them limited—limited entrepreneurial money to get started. It ranges all the way from that to very basic things like crisis intervention on those thousands of children and women who have been raped and abused.

And so it's—it's—it's the little things that go beyond filling their stomach and providing a roof over their head and provide for the—the clothing on their back that relates to how they get victimized, in many cases, sexually, and sexually abused. And—and it's—so our—this is only $45 million a year. It's a relatively small amount. And it's going to be given to agencies like Save The Children that sign on to a code of conduct, saying that 'We are—we sign on to the following code of conduct as to how we will deal with refugees and displaced persons.' And we're—we are confident that it can literally impact on individual lives and thousands of them over the near term.

COURIC: Are you pretty optimistic this will pass?

Sen. BIDEN: I'm very optimistic, Katie. I just introduced a thing called the Violence Against Children Act. You've interviewed me at length about my work on violence against women, this is sort of continuum. We're finally raising the consciousness of not only our colleagues in the Congress but the American people generally of what happens to the most vulnerable among us. And I—I expect there will be wide support for this.

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