Congress must reenergize bipartisan consensus on humanitarian priorities
Earlier this month, humanitarians won a crucial victory on Capitol Hill. As part of the $1 trillion omnibus spending package, Congress approved almost $7 billion in assistance to address cascading disasters from the Middle East refugee crisis to food shortages in Africa. The single largest increase in the bill was the almost $1 billion of new money for famine relief. This new funding is important not only for the people it will help, but also for the bipartisan support marshalled to get it through Congress.
First and foremost, the deal is critical because of the lives it will save. The global humanitarian situation is on the cusp of what the medical profession refers to as an “acute on chronic” situation. This occurs when a patient with a chronic illness experiences the sudden onset of another medical crisis that together result in the rapid deterioration in the patient’s overall condition. In this particular case, the chronic condition is the global refugee and displacement crisis, which has seen some 65 million people forced from their homes. Most of displaced come from war torn countries and are in a situation of protracted displacement that is expected to last a decade or more on average.
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