As Budget Negotiations Continue, Syria Enters Eighth Year of Conflict

As Budget Negotiations Continue, Syria Enters Eighth Year of Conflict


As Congress continues negotiations on the FY18 omnibus spending bill, Syria enters its eighth year of conflict, further highlighting the need for strong U.S. foreign assistance funding.

Today, March 15, marks seven years since the start of conflict in Syria, which has killed more than 400,000 Syrians to-date and displaced more than 13.1 million refugees, many of whom are women and girls.

The Syria anniversary falls just a week after International Women’s Day and in the middle of Women’s History Month, which is significant to CARE because the welfare of women and girls is at the heart of our mission to eradicate poverty.

Did you know? In conflict and refugee settings, women and girls make up more than half of the population and suffer the most harm.

The situation in Syria isn’t improving. In fact, conditions are worsening for women and children, and in places where conflict is most extreme, and pockets where humanitarian aid has largely been cut off. Syrians are trapped and running out of resources. It’s hard to ignore the videos coming out of Syria of relentless bombings in Ghouta or reports of atrocities that no moral nation should allow or overlook. As James Stavridis wrote in Time Magazine this week, “Syria now resides among the worst post–Second World War civil conflicts, joining the Balkans, Rwanda, the killing fields of Cambodia and the long Colombian insurgency in terms of sheer brutality, inhumanity and lethality.”

As members of Congress continue to negotiate its omnibus spending bill for the current fiscal year, conflicts, famine conditions and crises persist worldwide. Furthermore, President Syrian refugees who have been displaced. As Syria enters eighth year of conflict, the need for foreign assistance funding rises. Trump has released his budget plan for next year, once again calling for deep cuts to foreign assistance. This is no time for America to turn away or pull back on humanitarian leadership. CARE advocates for robust U.S. foreign assistance funding and has expressed deep concern by proposals for disproportionate cuts to lifesaving programs that help some of the poorest communities in the world. It’s not just because we believe every human deserves better. It’s also because healthy investments in humanitarian and development assistance are proven to promote peace in unstable regions, improve economies in poor communities, reduce global disease outbreaks and increase opportunities for trade.

In fact, over the past two decades, strategic, innovative, sustainable and woman-focused humanitarian and developmental assistance has reduced poverty in developing countries and put people on a path toward self-reliance. Many countries that were previously dependent on U.S. foreign assistance are now on their way to self-sufficiency. Many no longer need our help and now make significant contributions to the global economy.

The conflicts in Syria and other countries, like Yemen, South Sudan and Rwanda, are far from hopeless, and we are far from powerless to change the outcome, so long as we continue funding foreign assistance at effective levels. America must continue investing in programs and projects that put women and girls first and give them equal access to resources that life themselves, their families and communities out of poverty.

What will happen if the U.S. pulls back on foreign assistance in FY 2018 and FY 2019? A coalition of leading development and global health organizations (including CARE USA) are answering that question with new data that shows the devastating human costs that proposed cuts to foreign assistance would mean, including: 

  • More than 135,000 additional preventable and treatable maternal, newborn, and child deaths annually;
  • Lifesaving food assistance cut off to 20 million people, including Syrian refugees;
  • 54 million more people put at risk for malaria;
  • More than 2 million people without access to safe and sustainable water sources and sanitation services that prevent the spread of disease;
  • 13 million children cut off from nutrition programs, leaving them vulnerable to physical and developmental stunting and reduced earning capacities that impact family and community economies for life.

A Syrian woman holds her youngest son amidst conflict and violence in the region.CARE Action works directly with members of Congress on legislative issues that support CARE’s mission, and we know that maintaining current levels of foreign assistance funding enjoys wide bipartisan support. Congress demonstrated in FY18 that it won’t allow foreign assistance to be slashed at the severe rates previously proposed. In fact, as House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said this month. "A strong, bipartisan coalition in Congress has already acted once to stop deep cuts to the State Department and Agency for International Development that would have undermined our national security. This year, we will act again.”

CARE Action is calling on advocates to make sure Congress knows that strong foreign assistance investments are important to you, to the nation and to millions of Syrians still living in conflict. As we mark the seven-year anniversary of violence in Syria, we must let Congress know that we cannot turn our backs on those who need us most.

What can you do today? Send an urgent message to Congress and tell your representatives to support U.S. foreign assistance funding at FY17 levels, ensuring we can respond to the dire humanitarian needs in Syria and across the globe. Don’t forget to also use your voice on Facebook and Twitter and share with friends and family why you’re standing up for strong U.S. foreign assistance funding for a better, more prosperous world.

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