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Merkley leads senators urging rapid famine aid

WASHINGTON - Amid an historic global famine crisis, a bipartisan coalition of senators led by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., is pushing the Trump administration for rapid action to ensure that newly dedicated American assistance reaches hunger-stricken areas as soon as possible.

The members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees wrote to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney urging these funds to be released without delay.

In the letter, the senators pointed to the $990 million in humanitarian relief for the famine crisis that was included in the recently passed government funding bill, and noted, “Humanitarian aid can sometimes take months to reach its intended destination. It is imperative that these funds be released without delay.”

In addition to Merkley, the letter was signed by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Thad Cochran (R-MS), John Hoeven (R-ND), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Boozman (R-AR), Chris Coons (D-DE), Todd Young (R-IN), and Ben Cardin (D-MD).

South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen and Somalia are all facing severe famines, and across the globe, nearly 110 million people in 45 countries will require emergency food assistance this year.

“We urge you to take the necessary steps to apportion these funds as soon as possible. Millions of lives are depending on it,” the senators concluded.

The full text of the Senators’ letter follows below.

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May 18, 2017

 

The Honorable Mick Mulvaney

Director

The Office of Management and Budget

725 17th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20503

Dear Mr. Mulvaney:

The world is currently witnessing a humanitarian crisis not seen in 70 years.  In February, the United Nations declared a famine in South Sudan and 5 million South Sudanese are facing severe food insecurity.  This level of famine is also threatening Nigeria, Yemen, and Somalia.  In Yemen, 2.2 million children are acutely malnourished.  Across 45 countries, nearly 110 million people will require emergency food assistance this year. 

The fiscal year 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act provided $990 million in humanitarian relief to address this critical famine, and hundreds of millions of dollars were included in the 2017 Security Assistance Appropriations Act for international disaster assistance.  Humanitarian aid can sometimes take months to reach its intended destination.  It is imperative that these funds be released without delay. 

We urge you to take the necessary steps to apportion these funds as soon as possible.  Millions of lives are depending on it.

Sincerely,


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