UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The State Department said on Monday it would end US funding for the United Nations Population Fund, the international body’s agency focused on family planning and maternal and child health in more than 150 countries.
In a letter to the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, the State Department said it was withdrawing the funds because the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization. “
The cut marks the first move by US President Donald Trump to cut funding for the United Nations and is likely to raise more questions about how deep those cuts will go across the organization, where the United States is the largest donor.
It comes after Trump in January reinstated the so-called Mexico City Policy that withholds US funds for international organizations that perform abortions or provide information on abortion.
Trump, known to critics as the “global gag” rule, expanded its scope to include all of global healthcare in his Jan. 23 executive order that retains at least $ 500 million in US funding. However, the lack of clarity around the rule has left aid groups scrambling and US lawmakers both Republicans and Democrats searching for clarity.
In a statement on its website, UNFPA said it regrets the United States’ decision to end the funding, which it said was based on an “erroneous claim” that the agency supports coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China.
UNFPA said its mission is “to ensure that all pregnancies are desired, that all deliveries are safe and that the potential of each young person is developed.”
“The support we have received over the years from the government and people of the United States has saved tens of thousands of mothers from preventable deaths and disabilities, and especially now in the rapidly developing global humanitarian crises,” the statement said. .
The cut follows Trump’s proposed 28 percent budget cut for diplomacy and foreign aid, including an unspecified reduction in financial support for the United Nations and its agencies, announced last month.
UN agencies, such as UNFPA, are voluntarily funded by governments. The United States was the fourth largest voluntary donor to UNFPA in 2015, providing $ 75 million in core budget and earmarked contributions.
UN officials have warned that abrupt funding cuts could trigger further global instability, arguing that diplomacy dollars are more effective than military spending in fighting terrorism.
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