Statement from Mercy Corps’ Americas Regional Director Provash Budden on Administration update on U.S. aid to Central America
Yesterday the Trump Administration announced that it will deliver some previously allocated funding for aid and development programs in Central America, but will withhold additional aid until the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras take action to curb migration.
Mercy Corps currently implements two U.S. government-funded programs in Guatemala, including an urban violence prevention initiative in some of the most dangerous communities in and around Guatemala City. We’ve had to make the heartbreaking decision to cancel planned activities as we try to complete the program on a shortened timeline to adjust to a reduced budget. This includes:
- Cancelling the opening of a women’s shelter that would have helped 2,850 survivors of violence,
- Cancelling “vacation school” programs for at-risk youth who need supervision and support to keep them safe when schools are closed for holidays and the summer. Last year, we had over 1,000 students participate in vacation school,
- Cancelling the provision of legal, medical and counseling services to LGBTI victims of violence,
- Cancelling violence prevention projects, including extracurricular activities reaching 2,000 students in public schools, and
- Cancelling the provision of substance abuse counseling and education for youth in eight schools.
We asked 14-year-old Maria, participating in our urban violence prevention program, what she would say to someone who wanted to cancel the program. Here is what she told us: “That it is a huge mistake. To me it is not rational, or even human, that they would want to take opportunities from people. And when those opportunities are taken away, the migration issue rises to the surface. And someone who takes away opportunities is cutting down dreams, even lives.”
We urge the Administration to fully restore all allocated funds, and for Congress to protect future aid and development funds for the region. We believe that with the right investments, a safer, more prosperous Central America is possible; a region where people can build a brighter future at home and no longer have to flee for their lives or to provide for their children.