FY17 Emergency Aid Appeal Letter

August 19, 2016

The Honorable Thad Cochran
Chair
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Room S128, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Harold Rogers
Chair
House Committee on Appropriations
Room H305, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Barbara Mikulski
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Room S146A, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Nita Lowey
Ranking Member
House Committee on Appropriations
1016 Longworth House Office Building
ashington, DC 20515

Dear Chairs and Ranking Members:

The US Congress- and the Appropriations Committees in particular- have been critical in the United States’ constant commitment to assist those suffering overseas. We write today to ask you to continue leading the global community by appropriating sufficient funds in Fiscal Year 2017 (FY2017) to respond to the time of extraordinary humanitarian need.

We have reached a horrible milestone: at no time in recorded history have so many men, women and children had to flee their homes. Sixty-five million people are displaced. Tragically, there appears to be no end in sight to the conflicts that are responsible for 80 percent of this displacement, and, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 24 more people are displaced every minute. Distressingly, children make up 51 percent of the world’s refugees in 2015.

We recognize the budget pressures Congress faces, and appreciate the leadership Congress has shown in recent years to respond. The above mentioned statistics and the individual human lives that are often hidden in the face of such massive numbers, require the United States to act further to galvanize the global community to respond. The needs have never been greater: the UN Humanitarian appeal is now calling for $21.6 billion in lifesaving assistance in 2016, yet more than halfway through the year only 25 percent is fulfilled. This is on top of the 2015 appeal that recorded the largest funding gap ever of $10.2 billion.

Specifically, in the final FY2017 Conference Agreement we implore you to:

  • Restore International Disaster Assistance (IDA) to at least the House Appropriations Committee’s level of $2.8 billion to ensure that internally displaced people- 40.8 million globally- will receive lifesaving assistance.
  • Include at least the Senate Appropriations Committee’s level of $1.6 billion for Food for Peace- the US government’s primary food assistance account- to ensure food assistance will not be cut to families in desperate need.
  • Maintain at least $3 billion for the Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) Account, a level of funding supported by both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

Meeting these massive humanitarian needs, either through increasing funding in the FY2017 appropriations bills or through an emergency funding bill would demonstrate strong US leadership especially as needs in the Middle East continue to grow.

The IDA account supports the US response inside Syria, and while the war rages on, the number of internally displaced is over 6.6 million. Next door in Iraq, 3.2 million and counting are displaced with little aid reaching those most in need. UNHCR recently released a report highlighting the growing poverty of refugee populations that also demands immediate attention, including in the Middle East, which could be supported through increases to the MRA account. For example, in Lebanon the average debt held by refugee households has increased over the first quarter of 2016 and the number of people living below the poverty line has risen to 70 per cent compared to 50 percent in 2014. In Jordan, 90 percent of registered Syrian refugees in urban areas are below the national poverty line, while over 67 percent of families are living in debt. Despite this disturbing trend, only 30 percent of the $4.55 billion appeal under the regional response plan has been funded. (As of May 31st, 2016)

Besides desperately needed humanitarian assistance, we urge you to consider robust development funding, including funding for conflict mitigation and prevention assistance, that can help support a more lasting peace in the region and prevent further loss of life. We also urge that funding both in the FY2017 bill or any emergency package not come at the expense of other effective humanitarian and development assistance, which work together to serve the common goal of building a safer and more prosperous world.

Thank you in advance for your consideration and leadership on these lifesaving issues.

Sincerely,

Action Against Hunger
ADRA International
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
American Red Cross
AmeriCares
CARE USA
Catholic Relief Services
Concern Worldwide U.S.
Global Communities
Habitat for Humanity International
Handicap International
Heartland Alliance International
Heifer International
Helen Keller International
InterAction
International Medical Corps
International Rescue Committee
Lutheran World Relief
Mennonite Central Committee US, Washington DC Office
Mercy Corps
Mercy-USA for Aid and Development
PAI
PCI
Plan International USA
Project C.U.R.E.
Refugees International
Relief International
Save the Children
Stop Hunger Now
Syria Relief and Development
Syrian American Medical Society
The Hunger Project
United Muslim Relief
World Vision U.S.

Cc:
The Honorable Lindsey Graham
The Honorable Kay Granger
The Honorable Jerry Moran
The Honorable Robert Aderholt
The Honorable Patrick Leahy
The Honorable Jeff Merkley
The Honorable Sam Farr