Faith Leaders: Sign the letter to protect lifesaving aid

It is hard to imagine a worse time to consider cutting lifesaving international aid, which currently amounts to less than half of one percent of the federal budget. But that is exactly what President Trump’s newly-released “skinny” budget for fiscal year 2018 proposes.

Right now, we are facing the worst outbreak of famine that the world has seen in decades. Twenty million people are at risk in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen. Children are already dying of starvation, and we know now that starvation will become more widespread in the months ahead.

In addition, we are experiencing the largest refugee crisis since World War II, with an estimated 65 million people forced to flee their homes. We need to do more, not less.

Yet, we are a people of hope. We are a people of action. The United States has long been a global leader in providing lifesaving assistance to the most vulnerable people in the world, helping families survive and helping communities rebuild and become self-sufficient.

Through the years, working with both Democrats and Republicans, Bread for the World has helped strengthen and improve our nation’s lifesaving foreign aid. Now is the time to protect it.

We are asking faith leaders in key states to join us in speaking out to protect lifesaving aid.

Anyone in Wisconsin who identifies as a faith leader is welcome to sign this letter that is being convened by Bread for the World. You can sign the letter here. While this letter will be ongoing, a good number of signatures are needed before Friday, June 9th. Bread For the World Lobby Day is on June 13th, when the letter will be delivered to Congress.

[TEXT OF LETTER]

Dear Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Ron Johnson, and the Wisconsin Congressional delegation,

As we watch a deadly famine and refugee crisis unfold abroad, we urge you to protect lifesaving aid in our government’s International Affairs Budget.

As faith leaders across Wisconsin, we answer God’s call to help our neighbors in need. In your calling as our elected officials, we ask you to do the same. God’s call for us is both a divine command and an invitation to participate in God’s work of protecting, nourishing, and restoring life.

In this spirit, we are gravely concerned with the Trump Administration’s proposed cuts to our nation’s international development efforts, which would slash funding for programs with a proven track record of treating and preventing disease, alleviating poverty, and helping communities survive humanitarian disasters and rebuild in the aftermath. These cuts would be devastating for vulnerable people, and we call on you to reject the proposed cuts and to protect lifesaving aid.

There are many reasons to protect lifesaving aid in our International Affairs Budget. Here are just a few:

• These programs save lives. For example, in fiscal year 2015, 42 million people were reached with emergency food aid. Cutting this funding would cut people off from lifesaving assistance.

• We are currently facing the worst outbreak of famine that the world has seen in decades, with twenty million people at risk of dying due to starvation in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen. Indications are it is going to get worse before it gets better.

• We are living through the largest refugee crisis since World War II, with an estimated 65 million people forced to flee their homes. Our assistance provides food to families in refugee camps, keeping them closer to their home countries.

• Hunger and poverty can contribute to the destabilization of communities, nations and regions and make the rebuilding process more difficult. In our increasingly interconnected world, human misery will eventually come knocking on our door.

• We know that in some parts of the world, terrorist organizations like ISIS use food to help recruit young people. With our own assistance, we provide a critical counterbalance and a better way.

• History has shown us that countries receiving U.S. aid can become strong allies, trading partners and consumers of U.S. goods. South Korea and Brazil are clear examples.

• As former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, “Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”

• All of this good, and much more, has been accomplished on less than half of one percent of the federal budget.

The United States of America has long been a “shining city on a hill” in many ways, including through our global leadership in addressing the most pressing crises of our time. We ask you to continue our leadership by protecting lifesaving aid in the International Affairs Budget.

We are praying for our President and for you, that God would bless you and grant you wisdom and courage in meeting the challenges we face.

In hope,

[Undersigned faith leaders]

More information –

–Bread for the World Sign on Letter: http://www.bread.org/blog/faith-leaders-sign-our-letter-protect-lifesaving-aid
–Background on this issue: http://bread.org/sites/default/files/downloads/poverty-focused-development-assistance-march-2017.pdf
–Recent op-ed from a U.S. representative: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/324026-where-hunger-is-a-weapon-of-war-food-fights-back

Questions? Email or call Zach Schmidt at zschmidt@bread.org or (312) 890-3610.

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