Statement on Secretary Tillerson’s Defense of Massive Cuts in Humanitarian Aid

Statement by Refugees International President Eric Schwartz

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today had the unenviable task of putting lipstick on a pig, suggesting that a foreign aid budget request with draconian cuts represents responsible stewardship of U.S. foreign policy. The Secretary justified the cuts with an argument about limitations on resources – an argument that is simply inaccurate. Today and previously, the Secretary of State suggested that the current rate of spending for foreign aid is simply not sustainable. 

That is nonsense. 

The United States spends less than one percent of the federal budget on foreign aid, and far less than that on critical and life-saving humanitarian assistance. As a percentage of U.S. national income, our foreign aid levels rank near the bottom of rich nations.

With unprecedented humanitarian needs around the globe, this is no time for the United States to slash its aid budget and leave millions of people at greater risk of suffering. 

And, tragically, nothing Secretary Tillerson said today changed the reality of a deplorable proposal that: 1) eliminates the emergency food aid program and doesn’t provide adequate alternative resources when parts of South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen are experiencing or are at risk of famine; 2) provides no funding for the State Department’s Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund; 3) dramatically reduces U.S. contributions to international peacekeeping; 4) reduces essential resources to both the Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) and the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) budget; and 5) eliminates development assistance accounts.

With unprecedented humanitarian needs around the globe, this is no time for the United States to slash its aid budget and leave millions of people at greater risk of suffering.