Media CenterCRS President calls for additional funding to address famine in Africa
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Catholic Relief Services
Opposes proposals to rescind humanitarian and development assistance for FY17
WASHINGTON, DC, March 29, 2017 -- Catholic Relief Services (CRS) strongly opposes deep cuts proposed by the Administration to international assistance for Fiscal Year 2017, instead calling for funding to be increased in the face of growing needs.
“We ask Congress to consider providing immediate and significant supplemental funding in FY17 to address […] famine and famine-like conditions,” CRS CEO and President, Sean Callahan, said in written testimony to the House Foreign Affairs committee hearing on impending famine in several African countries.
“As an implementer of U.S. humanitarian and development assistance, we know these programs have saved countless lives and are essential to the continued survival of the people of these war‐torn countries,” Callahan said. “We urge Congress to continue its moral leadership by robustly supporting those accounts that deliver this aid to the millions of people in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen, and in the surrounding countries.” Kenya and Ethiopia are also suffering significant drought.
Earlier this year, officials warned that famine was likely in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen without intervention by the international community; famine has subsequently been declared in parts of South Sudan. The UN has calculated that $4.4 billion is needed by June to avoid catastrophic loss of life.
Cuts to humanitarian assistance programs such as P.L. 480 Food for Peace are particularly concerning. The proposed rescissions also would cut development assistance, which funds interventions in education, water and sanitation, and agricultural development; and Food for Education, which feeds poor school children.
“These are the kinds of program that help people climb out of poverty,” stated Bill O’Keefe, Vice President of government relations and advocacy for CRS. “This funding is a proverbial ounce of prevention. If we cut back on basic development assistance, then we are going to have to spend more in the future for humanitarian responses.”
Proposed cuts to global health programs include cuts for PEPFAR, the U.S. response to the global AIDS pandemic begun under President George W. Bush, as well as funding for programs focused on tuberculosis, orphans and vulnerable children, polio, nutrition, and neglected tropical diseases.
“These accounts not only save lives overseas, but also help to prevent the spread of disease globally. By halting them overseas, we help to protect Americans, and at a fraction of the cost,” noted O’Keefe.
In his written testimony, Callahan called for more funding to be committed to humanitarian assistance if we are to avert disaster. He stressed that “[i]n the face of the unprecedented number of people suffering violence and hunger, anything short would surely lead to famine.”