As President and CEO of UNICEF USA, I represent hundreds of thousands of Americans who believe in helping children around the world survive and thrive. I am writing to share my grave concerns about how a rescission or any delay of fiscal year 2019 funds for UNICEF would endanger the lives of children around the world.
Over the past 70 years, with strong U.S. leadership and support, UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other organization in the world. Because of its effectiveness, expertise, and transparency, UNICEF enjoys strong support from governments, corporations, foundations, and private citizens from all over the world. In fact, more than a quarter of UNICEF’s total income is from private sector and non-governmental organizations.
The core funding resources that donors provide to UNICEF, including the U.S. Government’s annual voluntary contribution to UNICEF’s budget, is essential to UNICEF’s ability to carry out its mission to protect and save the lives of children in some of the harshest and most dangerous areas around the world. These core resources serve as the foundation of UNICEF’s country and humanitarian programs; and they allow UNICEF to carry out the emergency responses and frontline interventions that it is internationally renowned for leading.
If the Administration advances a rescission proposal that eliminatesthe U.S. Government’s contribution to UNICEF’score resources for fiscal year 2019, the effects on children’s safety and livelihoods would be swift and extensive. UNICEF would be forced to make immediate cuts to vital child survival programs across all program areas, including health, education, water and sanitation, nutrition, and protecting children from trafficking. Loss of core resources would disrupt UNICEF’s ability to procure vaccines for critical global immunization campaigns including measles and polio; and would adversely impact many of the over 100 U.S. companies that serve as UNICEF supply partners.
Denying funding to UNICEF would also drastically limit itsglobal ability to respond rapidly to humanitarian crises. This past year, UNICEF used core resources to respond to the Rohingya crisis, prevent and address numerous global cholera outbreaks, prevent measles outbreaks, and provide lifesaving health and education services in Yemen and Syria.
UNICEF is involved throughout the world in preventing the spread of infectious diseases, and withholding funds to UNICEF could have an impact on protecting U.S. health security. For example, any disruption of core resources will interrupt UNICEF’s work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where UNICEF staff are currently engaged in efforts to respond to and prevent the further spread of Ebola.
The United States and the American people care about saving and helping children around the world. Eliminating the U.S. Government’s contribution to UNICEF’s core resources for fiscal year 2019 would put children’s lives at risk. For their sake, I strongly urge you to exclude UNICEF from any proposal to rescind or delay funding.
Caryl M. Stern