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Coalition Of Aid Groups Warn Of Sequestration’s Effects On Humanitarian Aid In Open Letter

“A coalition of aid groups including CARE, Catholic Relief Services, InterAction, the International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Refugees International, World Vision, and many others delivered a letter [.pdf] to the White House and Congress Wednesday pointing out that 2013 has already been a year where the resources devoted to humanitarian assistance have been strained to the breaking point” and “warning that the impending arbitrary budget cuts known as the ‘sequester’ will have dire consequences for people in crisis situations in the world’s most conflict-affected areas,” Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” reports. According to the blog, “The groups are asking that when Congress puts together the next continuing resolution, a temporary bill to fund the government, at the end of March, the changing needs for humanitarian assistance are taken into account” and “increased funding for humanitarian assistance not come from within the existing international affairs budget, which is already facing extreme tension due to sequestration.” In the letter, the groups write, “Without these alterations we fear that the U.S. agencies that oversee humanitarian response will be put in an impossible position, choosing between saving lives in one country over another,” the blog notes.

“The across-the-board budget cuts set to go into effect March 2 would force the State Department to cut $200 million from humanitarian assistance accounts and $400 million from global health funding, Secretary of State John Kerry wrote in a letter to Congress this week,” adding “that cuts in global health funding would hurt State and USAID’s efforts to stamp out AIDS abroad and hamper efforts to prevent child deaths,” the blog states. “The White House hasn’t yet submitted a fiscal 2014 budget request, which is typically sent to Congress the first week of February,” according to “The Cable,” which adds, “White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that ‘there’s a great deal of activity in this White House with regards to the sequester, and there will continue to be’” (Rogin, 2/20).