Media CenterCRS Applauds International Assistance Funding in FY17 Omnibus Bill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catholic Relief Services
Budget Includes Nearly $1 Billion for Famine Relief in East Africa
WASHINGTON, DC, May 5, 2017 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) applauds the inclusion of funds in the FY17 Omnibus budget bill passed by Congress to help millions of people in desperate need around the world.
“The American people are truly generous,” said Bill O’Keefe, CRS vice president for Government Relations and Advocacy. “With this bill, Congress is reflecting and responding to that core element of our country’s character.”
O’Keefe pointed specifically to the nearly $1 billion in emergency funding aimed at preventing famine in the drought and violence stricken countries of Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria while helping to alleviate the famine that has been declared in South Sudan.
“More than 20 million lives are at risk,” O’Keefe said. “Estimates suggest that $4.4 billion is needed by June to avoid catastrophic loss of life. With this contribution, the United States is demonstrating its moral leadership that will inspire and compel other countries to contribute.”
Beyond that, the bill also includes humanitarian assistance for refugees at a time when more people have been forced from their homes than at any time in history. O’Keefe points out that millions of these people are hosted by countries like Uganda and Kenya that need assistance.
“We must not only help these refugees facing dire circumstance, but also the communities that are generously welcoming them,” he said.
Other aspects CRS welcomes include:
- Continued support for global health that includes stable funding to respond to HIV and AIDS and money for maternal and child health. The bill also increased funding to fight malaria and for programs that provide low cost vaccines in poor countries, and establishes a new Emergency Reserve Fund to respond to global health outbreaks which threaten the United States.
- Continuation of the Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole Food for Education programs, which are essential for the survival, health and welfare of people in many drought-stricken countries such as Madagascar.
- Maintaining funding for the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs that addresses forced labor and hazardous child labor around the globe, including youth conscripted into violent gangs in Central America, many of whom then flee to the United States seeking safety.
- Continuation of investments in safety and opportunity in Central America by providing $650 million in assistance to the region.
O’Keefe noted that the funds directed at helping the poor overseas are a small part of the U.S. budget but help to leverage hundreds of millions of private dollars in contributions to organizations like CRS.
“This is another demonstration of the generosity of the American people,” he said. “At CRS we pledge our ongoing commitment to work with Congress to ensure that the United States remains the world’s leader in saving lives, protecting the vulnerable and helping people to help themselves.”
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.