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Commentary & Opinion
Congress Must Prioritize Funding for International Assistance Programs

May 17, 2013

"For many people around the world, sequestration is literally a life-or-death issue. Its impact may be most deeply felt by those living in developing nations," Rev. Derrick Boykin, associate for African-American leadership outreach at Bread for the World, writes in the Huffington Post's "Black Voices" blog. "Millions of people around the world depend on vital assistance provided through U.S. poverty-focused development assistance programs like [PEPFAR]," he continues, adding, "During my own recent trip to Africa, I too saw programs that provide vital medical assistance to mothers and children." He continues, "Seeing that reality on the ground in Africa and knowing that the funding that supports these programs -- comprising less than one percent of the federal budget -- is under threat, I see sequestration as no mere inconvenience. Lives hang in the balance."

"Fortunately, organizations like Bread for the World have lobbied relentlessly to protect vital programs," Boykin writes, noting, "In February, Bread for the World joined a coalition of faith-based organizations in urging Congress to maintain funding for international humanitarian and poverty-focused development assistance." He continues, "From our united effort, we can claim a small victory: funding for poverty-focused development assistance is relatively unchanged from the previous year -- with a slight increase to cover development assistance, humanitarian assistance, and steady funding for global health initiatives," although "these increases were offset by reductions in a number of other accounts." He states, "Moving forward, with more tough budget choices ahead, Congress needs to prioritize funding for international assistance programs that have proven effective in saving and improving lives" (5/16).

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