Poverty, hunger and disease devastate the lives and dignity of most of our brothers and sisters in the world. Of the world's 6 billion people, a vast majority-5 billion, live in developing countries with access to only 20% of the world's resources. Nearly 3 billion continue to struggle on less than $2 per day. Health crises such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria threaten the existence of whole generations, and poor countries continue to face enormous development and humanitarian challenges.
Fighting poverty, hunger and disease by adequately funding foreign assistance is not simply an optional commitment. This action invests in solidarity with poor nations, creates the prosperity that improves our own national security, and promotes the human dignity of the poorest in the world.
Did you know?
- In Africa, one-third of people live in hunger and about one-sixth of children die before the age of five.
- 115 million primary school-aged children in developing countries do not attend school; three-fifths are girls.
As the President's budget proposal for $22.8 billion for foreign operations funding made its way through Congress, USCCB asked Members to give priority to the following items:
- Global Health: Support at a minimum the Senate-approved appropriation of $2.96 billion for morally appropriate, comprehensive programs to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Such funding is urgently needed as infectious diseases ravage the world's poorest countries and pose threats to economic stability and global security.
- Development and Humanitarian Assistance: Support the Senate-approved funding levels for core development and humanitarian assistance accounts. These programs help enhance skills and provide basic services in the areas of education, health care, agriculture, rural development and microenterprise/microfinance, as well as urgent assistance to victims of natural disasters and other emergencies. Many poor countries that fail to qualify for the Millennium Challenge Account depend on core programs.
- International Debt Relief: Support the Senate-approved appropriation of $99.75 million for debt relief. The Catholic community has been deeply involved in the question of debt relief since the calls of Pope John Paul II to reduce substantially, if not cancel outright, the debt that threatens the future of many struggling nations.
- International Financial Institutions: Adopt the House-approved appropriation of $950 million for the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA). Full funding of IDA is crucial to avoid undercutting the recent G-8 agreement on new IDA debt cancellation for poor countries that we worked for and welcome.
- Millennium Challenge Account (MCA): Support at a minimum the Senate-approved appropriation of $1.8 billion. Without significant funding for the MCA, any hope for the success of this innovative approach to foreign assistance will remain far off. USCCB also encouraged conferees to focus FY 2006 MCA funding on the world's poorest countries because MCA implementation has progressed more slowly than anticipated when Congress authorized lower middle income countries to be elibgible for MCA in FY 2006.
- Peace in the Holy Land: Support the House-approved appropriation of $150 million to help the Palestinians build capacity for the peace process and eventual statehood, and reject onerous conditions that will limit its effectiveness and delay its delivery.
- Sudan: Adopt the House-approved appropriation of $367 million for Sudan to support critical peace and humanitarian efforts in the Darfur region and the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Southern Sudan.
- Colombia: Support the Senate's certification provisions (SEC. 6110) on "Demobilization of Foreign Terrorist Organizations" related to funding for Colombia. The Colombian and U.S. Bishops have long promoted the necessity of a negotiated and just resolution of the internal conflict. Given concerns about human rights violations by armed actors and evidence that they are being treated with impunity upon demobilization, U.S. funds for the demobilization must be conditioned upon strict human rights criteria and monitoring.
- Haiti: Support the Senate-approved appropriation of $116 million for Haiti. As the poorest country in the hemisphere, Haiti deserves our special consideration to help the country deal with ongoing political and social unrest and to support upcoming elections.
- Indonesia: As was done last year, adopt the Senate language conditioning military assistance to Indonesia upon certification by the Secretary of State that certain well-defined human rights improvements have been made by the Indonesian Armed Forces.
We asked that Members support funding for and the inclusion of each of the above initiatives in addition to the funding levels for other health, development and humanitarian assistance programs.
Finally, USCCB underscored our support for continuing the U.S. policies on United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Mexico City Policy:
- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA): Oppose language included in Title III of the Senate-passed bill that would weaken the Kemp-Kasten amendment by narrowing the terms under which UNFPA can be declared ineligible for U.S. funding, and urge full reinstatement of Kemp-Kasten restrictions on funding to organizations involved in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.
- Mexico City Policy: Oppose SEC. 6111 in the Senate-passed bill, which states that foreign nongovernmental organizations shall not be ineligible for U.S. funds solely on the basis of the health or medical services they provide with non-U.S. government funds. This provision would effectively overturn the Mexico City policy, which prevents U.S. funding of NGOs which perform and promote abortion as a family planning method in developing nations.