Martin Rendón is the Vice President for Public Policy & Advocacy at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.
As the summer heats up in Washington, so does the debate about the shape of the deficit reduction package that will allow Congress to vote to increase the debt limit. Congress has to act by August 2 in order for the Government to meet its current financial obligations.
It is clear that painful cuts are coming in a variety of Federal programs. In the face of this crisis, a diverse coalition of over 40 leaders of international and domestic non-governmental organizations, including President and CEO Caryl M. Stern of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, is calling upon the Administration and Congressional Leadership to protect international and domestic programs that benefit poor and vulnerable families and children from deep budget cuts.
This “Circle of Protection” initiative builds upon the “Hunger Fast” campaign earlier this year in which a wide group of religious and humanitarian leaders called for fasting, prayer, and action to preserve essential anti-hunger and poverty programs. But the stakes have been raised by the ongoing debt limit negotiations.
In their letter to our National Leaders, the Circle of Protection CEOs declare: “We urge Congress and the Administration to give moral priority to programs that protect the life and dignity of poor and vulnerable people in these difficult times, our broken economy, and our wounded world.”
This powerful appeal tracks the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s message that no child should die of a cause we can prevent. Today, some 8.1 million children under the age of five die every year-that’s 22,000 a day-mainly from diseases we know how to prevent. We think that number should be “Zero,” and we ask our Government to provide both the political will and the resources to help us get to “Zero.”
Caryl Stern and other child survival leaders have issued a statement in support of the funding for global child survival and maternal health programs in the international assistance budget. The Circle of Protection coalition underscores the point that budgets are “moral documents.”
Please join Caryl and her colleagues in cosigning the statement that applies that principle to global programs that save the lives of children and their mothers around the world.