Media CenterCatholic Relief Services Calls on Congress to Reject Draconian Cuts to Foreign Aid
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catholic Relief Services
Proposed Budget Endangers Progress against Hunger and Poverty; Millions at Risk
WASHINGTON, DC, May 23, 2017 -- Catholic Relief Services (CRS) calls on Congress to reject drastic cuts to international assistance in the Administration’s proposed budget and protect the nearly $60 billion in diplomacy and development funding at a time of both unprecedented humanitarian need and real progress in the fight against extreme poverty.
“The American people want our government to help hungry people in the midst of drought and conflict,” said Bill O’Keefe, CRS’ Vice President for Advocacy. “This budget falls far short of their desire that our country contributes to a better, safer world.”
“The people who say aid does not work should come stand in my shoes here in Somalia,” said Mohamed Dahir, CRS’ Country Manager in that country. “They should talk to a woman who walked with her children for days and days, trying to escape drought, only to lose some of those children along the way.”
“In previous droughts, people like her found water in the major rivers, but this drought is so bad even the rivers have dried up,” Dahir said. “How can we abandon them – good, hardworking, innocent people who have done nothing wrong? Our aid not only brings them life, it brings them another commodity that is very precious in Somalia– hope."
With nearly 65 million forcibly displaced people in the world right now – more than 20 million of them refugees - and famine-like conditions in four countries, the proposed elimination of U.S. food aid especially would create a massive gap in assistance, resulting in lives lost.
“We can build on changes to programs that have already made them better, but cutting programs that provide a lifeline to millions of people is not the way to save money,” O’Keefe said. “A careful evaluation of what is working and what isn’t can and should be made, instead of taking food away from those that desperately need it.”
“This budget also shifts attention to short-term ‘strategic’ issues and countries. The danger is that problems elsewhere ignored today become the expensive strategic challenges our military has to address tomorrow.”
“A just framework for sound fiscal policy cannot rely almost exclusively on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor and vulnerable persons,” the letters state.
Much of U.S. international assistance is now spent in a way that saves money in the future. By investing in basic development -- education, water and sanitation, agriculture – foreign aid helps to build strong communities that can better withstand disasters and are more resilient to violence and extremist ideologies, reducing the need for costly emergency assistance.
“People around the world look up to America, because of our freedoms, our democracy, and our compassion,” O’Keefe said. “The generosity of the American people and the protection of human rights have undergirded America’s moral leadership for decades. That is what makes America great.”
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.