|Historically—and with strong bipartisan support—the United States has been the global leader in responding to the needs of these most vulnerable people. Successive Republican and Democratic leaders have understood that humanitarian assistance upholds America’s tradition of generosity and compassion and is an effective way of building trust with foreign governments and their citizens.|
Humanitarian programs supported by our government serve as lifelines for refugees and forcibly displaced persons around the world. They provide critical food aid and shelter for desperate people fleeing the terror of war and persecution in countries such as Colombia, Burma, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Haiti they offer clean water projects and medical clinics which save thousands of men and women from the grips of a raging cholera epidemic. They allow NGOs like Jesuit Refugee Service/USA to be more effective in our efforts to create innovative new programs to promote community reconciliation and personal empowerment as war-torn countries work to recover and rebuild. Just within the past year, JRS implemented several new educational and community-building projects in Southern Sudan, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, combining donations from generous private donors with funding from the US government's refugee assistance program.
Cutting refugee and disaster assistance will not only hinder current operations, but will cripple the ability of the U.S. to respond to new emergencies. When a natural disaster strikes, a drought turns into a famine, or a new civil war breaks out somewhere in the world, America will be forced to stay home while the rest of the world struggles to cover for our sudden absence. It is shocking to imagine that in the next major global humanitarian crisis – the next Haiti, the next tsunami, or the next Darfur – the United States might simply fail to show up.
In this harsh global economic environment, cutting life-saving refugee and disaster assistance funds will deny the world's most vulnerable citizens the ability to survive. As a global leader committed to protecting displaced persons, we are risking the health and safety millions of human beings in order to save less than one half of one percent of our nation's annual budget.
The text of the letter is below, or you can download a PDF.
The Honorable Harry Reid
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
28 March 2011
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:
As executive officers representing a diverse group of U.S. refugee, relief, and development organizations, we are writing to urge you to maintain Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10) funding levels for the core humanitarian accounts in FY11 and FY12. We are deeply concerned about the House of Representatives’ proposed funding cuts to the Migration and Refugee Assistance, Food for Peace, and International Disaster Assistance accounts. We believe that a reduction in resources will severely hamper the U.S.’ ability to provide life-saving protection and assistance to victims of war, famine, and those uprooted from large scale natural disasters.
Historically—and with strong bipartisan support—the United States has been the global leader in responding to the needs of these most vulnerable people. Successive Republican and Democratic leaders have understood that humanitarian assistance upholds America’s tradition of generosity and compassion and is an effective way of building trust with foreign governments and their citizens.
The consequences of major cuts to humanitarian budgets would be drastic:
• The U.S. would be unable to fully respond to emerging crises like Libya without cutting life saving assistance in other places;
• The U.S. will not be able to follow through with its special responsibility to provide protection and assistance to some two million Iraqis who remain displaced from the war;
• The U.S. will no longer be well positioned to provide support for people displaced by conflict and natural disasters in Afghanistan and Pakistan, undermining U.S. foreign policy goals at a critical moment;
• Reduced funding would decimate U.S. capacity to respond to a worsening drought in the strategically important Horn of Africa—a region that stands on the verge of a famine that could push more than seven million people towards starvation;
• Funds from the humanitarian accounts provide the vast majority of support to Darfur as well as substantial support to the future state of South Sudan. Cuts in funding would put hundreds of thousands of Sudanese lives at risk, just as the country embarks on the fragile process of North-South separation;
• A reduction in resources would slash USAID’s disaster risk reduction (DDR), which saves lives and money by reducing the humanitarian impact of natural disasters; and
• Programs aimed at reducing sexual and gender based violence and supporting vulnerable women and children in conflict would be crippled.
Effective humanitarian response requires up-front funds in order to support life-saving activities during the onset of an emergency and to ensure that resources remain steady until communities can recover and solutions can be found. For this reason it is urgent that the humanitarian accounts receive full funding now rather than be patched up with supplemental appropriations later in the fiscal year, which often take months to negotiate while people suffer. We would also stress that robust humanitarian funding should not come at the expense of other international poverty reduction and development accounts.
We strongly urge that Senate leadership work to maintain current FY10 funding for the Migration and Refugee Assistance, Food for Peace, and International Disaster Assistance accounts in the current and next fiscal year.
President and CEO American Refugee Committee
Curtis R. Welling
President and CEO
Executive Director Amnesty International USA
Dr. William Keh, MD,CEO
Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation
Helene D. Gayle MD, MPH
President and CEO CARE USA
Executive Director Center for Victims of Torture
Executive Director Chaldean Federation of America
David A. Weiss
President and CEO CHF International
Anne Lynam Goddard
President and CEO
John L. McCullough
Executive Director and CEO Church World Service
Chief Executive Officer
Concern Worldwide US
Joan C. Parker
President and CEO Counterpart International
Episcopal Migration Ministries
Tsehaye Teferra, Ph.D.
President Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc.
Food for the Hungry
President and CEO HIAS (The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society)
President and CEO Human Rights First
Nancy A. Aossey
President and CEO International Medical Corps
President and CEO International Rescue Committee
Fr. Michael Evans, S.J.
National Director Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
Dr. Pary Karadaghi
President Kurdish Human Rights Watch
President Liberty in North Korea (LINK)
Dr. Mujahid Al-Fayadh
President and CEO Life for Relief and Development
President and CEO
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
John Arthur Nunes
President and CEO Lutheran World Relief
Executive Director Mapendo International
President and CEO Mercy-USA for Aid and Development
Executive Director ORAM—Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration
Physicians for Human Rights
President Refugees International
Executive Director Resolve
Charles F. MacCormack
President and CEO Save the Children
Executive Director SEARAC—Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
President and CEO
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Executive Director Women’s Refugee Commission
CEO World Food Program USA
Senior Vice President of Programs World Relief
The Honorable Daniel Inouye
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate
The Honorable Thad Cochran
Vice Chairman, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate
The Honorable John Kerry
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate
The Honorable Richard Lugar
Ranking Member, Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate
The Honorable Kent Conrad
Chairman, Committee on the Budget, U.S. Senate
The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Ranking Member, Committee on the Budget, U.S. Senate
The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Chairman, Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, U.S. Senate
The Honorable Lindsey Graham
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs
202-462-0400 ext. 5946