ATLANTA (March 21, 2003) - The humanitarian organization CARE today called on the Bush Administration and Congress to speed the supplemental budget process to provide funds for humanitarian response in Iraq. Because of the lack of funding for Iraq humanitarian response, the U.S. government is diverting money that has been targeted for crucial needs in other parts of the world.
In jeopardy would be financial assistance to address critical problems, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic and drought in southern Africa, reconstruction and refugee assistance in Afghanistan, and the food crisis in the Horn of Africa. Already, CARE said, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has informed the organization that, due to budget strain, it will suspend at least $3 million in funds programmed to help 350,000 of the 4 million people displaced by the 20-year civil war in Sudan.
"What this loss of money would mean in human terms is heart-wrenching," said Peter Bell, president of CARE USA. He explained that 200,000 people would lose access to clean drinking water; more than half a million medical prescriptions would go unfilled; thousands of children under age 5 would not receive supplemental or therapeutic feeding each month; 60 child care centers, which support 4,000 children and working mothers, would close; and 24-hour water treatment centers would close or reduce hours, increasing the likely incidences of waterborne diseases.
Bell called on the Bush Administration to restore any money USAID has "scrubbed" from other funds during pre-positioning for humanitarian response in Iraq. "We understand the administration plans to request more than $2 billion for relief and reconstruction in Iraq. While this would be a good start, it is unlikely to allow the U.S. government to fulfill its responsibilities to provide food, water, medical care, and other basic needs for Iraq's 25 million people.
"We strongly urge the Bush Administration not to forget other parts of the world where promises have been made, places that could well slide into disaster and chaos without the financial support that often means the difference between life and death for people living there."
CARE emphasized the importance of timing. Bell concluded, "President Bush needs to submit the supplemental request now. This supplemental request should include sufficient resources to cover the immediate humanitarian crisis, as well as the initial stages of reconstruction. Only in this way that we can avoid a situation where funding for Iraq is taken from other countries also in grave need."
Atlanta: Lurma Rackley, CARE USA,
Atlanta: Alina Labrada, CARE USA, email@example.com, 404-979-9383