August 19, 2003
The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
Dear Mr. President
I am very pleased that Bishop John Ricard, the Chairman of our International Policy Committee, had the opportunity to express to you our appreciation for your trip to Africa during his recent visit to the White House. Your journey gave hope to a continent with much suffering and much promise, and brought the plight of millions of Africans to the attention of the American public.
Unfortunately, I fear that the commitment reflected in your trip to Africa could be lost if the Congress fails to provide adequate funding for your HIV/AIDS initiative, development and humanitarian aid, or if the United States fails to take the necessary actions for conflict resolution. We urge you and your Administration to do everything you can to fulfill the commitments made to combat disease and poverty and to help end bitter and bloody conflicts in the region.
This is a moment of crisis for the peoples of Africa and opportunity for the United States. As one of the principal institutions serving needy people in Africa, including those suffering from HIV/AIDS, we continue to advocate with Congress to fully fund morally appropriate programs to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We also support full funding of Millennium Challenge Account activities to help alleviate extreme poverty and promote human life and dignity in the worlds poorest countries, especially in Africa. However, the funding levels currently contained in Foreign Operations Appropriations bills fall well short of the need.
Your leadership is needed now to ensure that these initiatives succeed. Therefore, we respectfully request that you press now for Congressional action to appropriate the $3 billion which has been authorized for the HIV/AIDS initiative, and the $1.3 billion which you requested for the MCA initiative. We also request that this funding not be at the expense of crucial development assistance for poor countries, particularly those that may not qualify for the MCA.
In addition, we welcome your promise to help end war and conflict throughout Africa, particularly in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, and Liberia. We continue to urge the United States to respond to the people of Liberia and the international community by exercising leadership in the stabilization, peace-building and reconstruction effort necessary for a population suffering from decades of extreme deprivation.
We welcome the significant role that the United States has played thus far in preventing a catastrophic famine in the Horn of Africa. However, millions of people in Ethiopia and Eritrea are surviving solely on food assistance and are in desperate need of immediate aid for medical care and medium-to-long-term development assistance to help avert future famines.
There is no substitute for your clear, strong and persistent call for Congress to respond to these urgent, unfulfilled needs. Failure to make these promised investments or take these actions will invite cynicism and increased hopelessness, damage U.S. credibility, and worse, abandon millions of sick and hungry people.
Once again, we thank you for your efforts to improve the lives of those suffering in Africa. We look forward to assisting you to persuade the Congress to fulfill the national commitments you have made.
Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory
Bishop of Belleville