In a letter to President Donald Trump released today, Refugees International (RI) called on the President to delay his planned May 23 budget presentation, or at least elements related to U.S. humanitarian assistance, in view of detailed and credible reports received by Refugees International of massive planned cuts in programs serving critical humanitarian needs around the world.
The letter, signed by RI President Michel Gabaudan and Incoming RI President Eric Schwartz, noted that, in remarks in Saudi Arabia this weekend, President Trump had applauded “Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees,” and repeatedly spoke of the importance of the United States partnering with governments in the region. They added that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had similarly emphasized U.S. humanitarian aid to the region in recent days, declaring that “no country has invested more in protecting, housing, feeding and caring for Syrian refugees than the U.S.,” and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had recently declared that USAID has a “vital role in protecting U.S. national security by fostering stability, resolving conflict, responding to humanitarian crises, and ending infectious diseases.”
In light of these expressions of U.S. support for humanitarian aid, Gabaudan and Schwartz expressed deep concern about reported cuts that would “dramatically compromise the capacity of the United States to support friends and allies addressing humanitarian challenges, and which would send a signal in the starkest contrast to the message that you, Secretary Tillerson and Ambassador Haley are seeking to convey.” They added that these measures “would not only impact U.S. friends in the Middle East, but in Africa, Asia and other parts of the world.”
Gabaudan and Schwartz argued that “many around the world will die as a result of the diminished resources and support that result from these cuts.”
The letter describes those proposed cuts in some detail, which include elimination or dramatic reduction to the U.S. emergency food aid program, a State Department emergency humanitarian fund, an international organizations fund that has supported critical humanitarian and development programs, U.S. support for peacekeeping, U.S. support for refugee assistance programs, and U.S. support for development assistance, among other programs.
The full letter can be read here.