As many as 12 million people in the Horn of Africa (Africa's northeast peninsula) still suffer from severe acute malnutrition as a result of this summer's devastating drought and famine in the region. It is estimated that in the last three months, nearly 30,000 children have died from starvation in the Horn of Africa. Famine has been declared in several regions in southern Somalia and more regions are anticipated to reach those fatal levels in the coming weeks. This is the region's worst drought in 60 years and the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world today.
Yet in the midst of this crippling and long-term crisis, the final debt-ceiling deal negotiated by President Obama and the Congress could force lawmakers to make severe cuts to vital international-assistance programs that fight global poverty and allow the United States to provide essential support in response to deadly disasters like the drought in the Horn of Africa. These funds represent a small fraction (0.6%) of the federal budget, and slashing them will do very little to address the root causes of the U.S. budget deficit. Yet, these funds are facing the prospect of the deepest cuts in decades.
A congressional "Super Committee" set up by the debt-ceiling deal will now be tasked with negotiating cuts in the future federal budget. Every lawmaker's voice will be important, however. Tell your members of Congress not to make further cuts that would prevent millions of vulnerable people from receiving the funds they need to survive.
As Episcopalians, we are called by Jesus to help those in abject poverty, even as we face financial uncertainty in our own midst. This is our responsibility as Christians, and will ultimately strengthen our own national security by assisting those most vulnerable around the world.