Media CenterCRS urges protection of Bureau of International Affairs at Department of Labor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catholic Relief Services
Critical funding to combat child and forced labor at risk of cuts
BALTIMORE, MD, March 20, 2017: Catholic Relief Services (CRS) strongly opposes the Administration’s proposal in its 2018 budget request to eliminate grant-funding from the Department of Labor’s Bureau for International Labor Affairs (ILAB); these grants protect children from child labor and address forced labor.
As six committee chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) noted in their budget letter to Congress on March 3, “A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, vulnerable and at risk, without work or in poverty should come first.
Child labor is detrimental to the healthy development of 168 million children around the world; 85 million of whom work in extremely hazardous conditions. Since 1995, ILAB has provided direct services to almost 2 million vulnerable children and their families in over 90 countries. It has contributed to cutting in half hazardous child labor globally since 2000.
“The Bureau of International Labor Affairs provides critical technical expertise and, in our experience, rigorous oversight to its programs,” stated Bill O’Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy of CRS. “In El Salvador and Honduras, ILAB funds CRS to help at-risk youth in gang-ridden neighborhoods to return to school or find work. The program keeps these kids safe, prepares them for life, and allows them to stay in their communities rather than fleeing to the U.S.”
Pope Francis has redoubled the Church’s efforts to combat human trafficking and forced labor through the Vatican’s ‘End Slavery’ campaign. “CRS sees these grants as a critical part of a broader effort by the U.S. government and the Vatican to combat human trafficking,” noted O’Keefe.
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit crs.org or crsespanol.org and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.