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New York — There is a tragic inconsistency in US President Donald Trump’s response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of sarin gas against his country’s people. Trump said that he was moved to act by images of innocent children in Idlib province who had been killed by the deadly nerve agent. Yet Trump’s administration stands behind a proposed budget that will cause even greater harm to people in Idlib and around the world.

For starters, Trump wants to slash overall funding to the United Nations—a move that would undermine the entire global humanitarian-aid system. Last year, the United States contributed about $10 billion to UN efforts that support refugees, feed the poor, protect human rights, vaccinate children, and uphold peace. Trump not only wants to cut that spending by nearly 30 percent; he also plans to gut or even eliminate US government programs that help prevent starvation and provide essential services in Idlib and elsewhere.

Even seeming minor cuts can have an outsize impact. For example, the US State Department is scrapping Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance, a small but crucial fund that has been deployed in Idlib to provide emergency food aid to Syrians driven from their homes by Assad’s army. In the past, the fund has quelled unforeseen crises in South Sudan, Mali, and Côte d’Ivoire, and other countries.


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