Media CenterCRS calls for poor and marginalized to be emphasized in Conference on Central America
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catholic Relief Services
SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR, June 15, 2017 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) expresses concern about the lack of civil society participation and the failure to focus on the poor and marginalized in the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, which is being co-hosted by the United States and the Government of Mexico, in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), from June 15-16, 2017, in Miami.
The following is a statement issued by Jill Marie Gerschutz Bell, CRS’ senior policy and legislative specialist, on the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America:
This week, government representatives from the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are gathering to discuss security and economic issues in the Northern Triangle. Unfortunately, civil society groups like ours, which have been on the frontlines of helping the region’s most vulnerable people, are not present. This is a missed opportunity to robustly discuss with all stakeholders the root causes of violence, instability and displacement, and how we can work together to scale up proven solutions.
CRS recognizes the importance of discussing issues of security and the economy as they relate to the Northern Triangle of Central America but urges the representatives present at the Conference to consider how their strategies and policies affect those who live in poverty or fear of violence. Failure to alleviate the suffering of the poor and to protect those threatened by violence will ultimately mean that U.S. investments will not achieve the wishes of taxpayers: to ensure safety and opportunity for those currently compelled to make the perilous journey north.
At the same time, the Administration’s proposed cuts to foreign aid in the FY18 budget jeopardize funding for poverty-reducing development work in areas like the Northern Triangle. Civil society organizations like CRS implement programs to reduce poverty, and as such are familiar with the challenges affecting the poor and marginalized. We are trusted by all stakeholders. We urge the Department of State to hereafter involve civil society organizations in such critical conversations to ensure that the poor and marginalized are represented.
CRS, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States, works in 19 countries across Central and South America with a focus on youth, water and sanitation, and agriculture.
In partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education program—which is proposed for elimination in the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request—CRS has provided meals to thousands of school children. By giving marginalized children an opportunity for quality education, the likelihood that the children fall prey to violent gangs or migrate north decreases. In Honduras alone, for example, we improved the literacy rate in one province by 22 percent in just three years.
To help at-risk Central American youth, CRS is scaling up programs like YouthBuild, which teaches youth soft and hard skills in order to find jobs, return to school, or start their own businesses. Working with key government officials and employers, 80 percent of the youth participants in the pilot program transitioned back to school or to work. CRS plans to reach 50,000 youth by 2020 in Latin America. A critical part of the funding for this YouthBuild program is from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, which is also slated for elimination in the Administration’s budget request.
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.