Stay “woke” and informed on humanitarian policies and issues affecting your neighborhoods and people all around the world. This week’s word is on: proposed cuts to federal humanitarian programs.
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The current administration’s proposed 2020 federal budget calls for deep cuts in key programs focusing on refugee assistance, global health, and humanitarian aid.
The Washington Post reported on March 12 that the administration proposes to consolidate $9 billion that’s currently dedicated to these programs through several funds into a single fund, the International Humanitarian Assistance fund. However, for 2020, the administration is seeking to dedicate just $6 billion, or about one-third less overall.
But some programs would be impacted even more. One program that could see a huge hit is the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). This year, it’s on track to spend $3.3 billion on refugee assistance, the Post said. However, for 2020, the administration seeks to contribute just $365 million, of which $320 million would go toward the refugee admissions and resettlement groups.
That is a steep drop. However, the reality is that it’s consistent with the administration’s attitude and actions on refugees in general. Last year, it dramatically limited the number refugee admissions. Thus, we think that the lowered cap would serve as justification for slimmer spending. For this year, the cap remains low, at just 30,000.
Despite the cuts, government officials believe the proposed budget will enable the U.S. to carry out these international programs effectively. They also hope the proposed budget sends a message to the international community that they need to contribute as well.
Mark Green, administrator of the U.S. for International Development (USAID), described it this way:
“The U.S. will continue its role as the world leader in humanitarian assistance, but we’ll also call on others to do their part, and we’ll work relentlessly to assure that assistance is delivered as effectively and as efficiently as possible.”This tough stance hearkens back to President Donald Trump’s attitude about American military forces protecting foreign bases indefinitely. He called on other countries to start paying more for U.S. military-protected overseas bases, having said when he was running for president that the U.S. was “losing a fortune.”
The president made his point, but in this particular instance, lives are at stake. When you consider the acute health crises that exist around the world, particularly in regions where Islamic Relief USA does work, like Asia and Africa, it appears more money is needed to provide life-saving medicine, shelter, clean water, etc. And, one not need be reminded of the countless stories of refugees seeking a better life than the nations they left because of war, dire poverty, corruption, famine, among other things.
Islamic Relief USA hopes the administration will reconsider its spending thresholds in these areas. As one of the world’s greatest superpowers, the international community looks to the United States as a beacon of freedom, morality and opportunity. Thus, it should back that generous spirit with more reasonable contributions, ones that are reflective of the true level of need.