Humanitarian NGOs concerned over proposed 9% cut to key poverty-focused accounts

(Washington, D.C.) April 25, 2012 — InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international NGOs, expressed grave concern over the deep 9 percent cut in the discretionary spending allocations for FY2013 foreign affairs programs passed today by the House Appropriations Committee.

As approved, the allocation for the State, Foreign Operations Subcommittee was $40.1 billion for base programs (non-war related, non-emergency) and $8.2 billion for “overseas contingency operations,” (OCO) for a total of $48.3 billion.  This amounts to an overall cut from the current fiscal year of about $5 billion (9 percent), and is $5 billion lower than the Senate Appropriations Committee allocation made last week.

“We recognize the tough fiscal environment and the need for restraint, but we are disappointed to see the House appropriations allocation for foreign affairs reduced to a level which curbs our ability to fight extreme poverty,” said Samuel A. Worthington, President and CEO of InterAction.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Faith leaders unite to protect the poor in budget debate

Diverse Coalition Unites to Protect Poor People in Budget Debate

InterAction joins faith leaders and others in endorsing the principle that budgets are ‘Moral Documents’

(Washington, D.C.) July 1, 2011 — At a critical juncture in the deficit reduction talks a diverse coalition of over 40 prominent international and domestic NGOs have joined the leaders of dozens of national faith organizations in calling on the Obama administration and congressional leadership to protect programs benefitting poor and hungry people both here and abroad from budget cuts.

“Attempting to balance the budget on the backs of the world’s poor betrays our nation’s values and hurts our interests. Fully funding these programs is the right thing to do and the wisest path to long-term prosperity, security and budget health,” stated Samuel A. Worthington, InterAction’s president and CEO.

In an open letter to policymakers involved in defect reduction negotiations these groups expressed support for six principles first outlined by a group of faith leaders known as the Circle of Protection coalition, saying:

“…we believe the moral measure of the [budget] debate is how the most vulnerable among us fare. Poor and hungry people do not have powerful lobbies, but they do have the most compelling claim on our national conscience and common resources. As people of conscience we have an obligation to defend this claim in civic discourse, to join with others to insist that programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world are protected.”

View the full text of the letter, including the six principles, hereRead the rest of this entry »

The United States and the International Ban on Landmines

As the U.S. landmine policy review by the Obama Administration enters its second year, come hear from our panel of experts – all with first-hand experience with these weapons – and learn about their mission to convince the United States to relinquish antipersonnel landmines and accede to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

Georgetown Landmine Event Flyer

Panelists include:

Professor Ken Rutherford (S’91, G’00), Director of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery, James Madison University

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1997)

Stephen D. Goose, Executive Director of the Arms Division, Human Rights Watch

RSVP here.

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USCIRF Condemns Terrorist Attack on Baghdad Church

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Nov. 3, 2010 – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today condemned Sunday’s terrorist attack on Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation Catholic church and expressed its sincere condolences to the victims and their families.  Reports indicate that at least 40 worshippers, two priests, and 10 members of the Iraqi security forces were killed, and more than 60 people were wounded.

“This horrific attack is a sobering reminder of what all should already know–that Iraqi Christians clearly continue to face a grave terrorist threat,” said USCIRF chair Leonard Leo.  “We recognize the promptness with which the Iraqi government responded to the hostage situation at the church, and it is most unfortunate that all of the hostages could not be safely rescued and that security forces were killed.  In the wake of this brazen and senseless attack, we urge the Iraqi government to proactively heighten security at Christian and other minority religious sites and the United States government to increase its support of such efforts.”
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Bishops show solidarity with Iraqi Christians, say U.S. has moral obligation to help

WASHINGTON (November 2, 2010) — Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), offered the prayers of the U.S. bishops and expressed solidarity with the suffering Christians of Iraq following the October 31 attack on the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad that killed 58 people and wounded 75.

“We stand with the bishops, Church and people of Iraq in their urgent search for greater security, freedom and protection,” said Cardinal George in a November 1 statement. “We call upon the United States to take additional steps to help Iraq protect its citizens, especially the most vulnerable.”
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Colombian court strikes down U.S. defense agreement

Just the Facts reports that late Tuesday,

Colombia’s Constitutional Court, part of its Supreme Court, decided by a 6-3 vote to strike down a defense cooperation agreement that Colombia’s government had signed with the United States in October 2009.

This accord, which gave U.S. military personnel the right to use seven Colombian bases for the next ten years, is suspended until Colombia’s Congress votes to approve it. Article 173 of Colombia’s Constitution requires that the country’s Senate be empowered to “permit the transit of foreign troops through the territory of the Republic.”

Politically, the court’s decision is a blow to both governments because it gives the impression – deserved or no – that the Obama and Uribe administrations sought to do something that violated Colombia’s Constitution. Operationally, however, the defense accord’s suspension will not affect the U.S. presence in Colombia. Not a single U.S. soldier or contractor will have to leave Colombia or alter what he is doing as a result of the Constitutional Court’s decision.

Read the full story here.