With mass starvation in Africa imminent, Mercy Corps urges U.S. lawmakers to reject proposed budget cuts to foreign aid
WASHINGTON, DC – Adoption of President Trump’s proposed cuts to the FY2017 and FY2018 budgets could lead to tragedy and crisis for millions of vulnerable people across the Horn of Africa and beyond, the global organization Mercy Corps testifies today at a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on “East Africa’s Quiet Famine.”
With famine already declared in parts of South Sudan and looming across Nigeria, Yemen and Somalia, 1.4 million children are currently at risk of imminent death, warns Michael Bowers, Mercy Corps’ Vice President for Humanitarian Leadership and Response. In light of this need, the proposed budget cuts are “not only irresponsible, but undercut America’s humanitarian leadership role in the world,” Bowers says in written testimony.
With the United Nations warning that 20 million people are at risk of starvation, any cuts to lifesaving humanitarian assistance means lives lost. Specifically, Mercy Corps calls on Congress to reject proposed cuts and simultaneously provide more than $60 billion for the International Affairs Budget – in addition to working to remove obstacles to humanitarians working to deliver lifesaving aid.
The current food insecurity across the region is exacerbated by a deadly mix of man-made causes including conflict, violent extremism and climate change.
In South Sudan, for example, years of conflict have produced devastating consequences with tens of thousands killed and ongoing civil war forcing more than 3 million people to flee their homes. Bowers warns that the famine there is “threatening to engulf more than one million people.” Long-term programs, he says, are the only way to address the root causes that lead to this crisis.
In addition to addressing the immediate emergencies, Bowers says long-term food security programs – also in jeopardy in the proposed budget – are critical to build the resilience of communities to prepare for, withstand and recover from these types of crises.
Across the region, Mercy Corps is currently working with local partners to meet the needs of an estimated 350,000 people in all four countries and to deliver food, water, sanitation supplies, hygiene promotion and education.
“Twenty years from now, we want to be able to conclude that we did everything to save lives,” says Bowers.NR Mercy Corps Testimony on Africa Famine.28March2017.pdf