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House, Senate agreeing on emergency hunger relief bill

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Recognizing the growing humanitarian emergencies around the world, members of the House and Senate are proposing increased funding for the International Disaster Assistance Program (IDA). Drafts of spending bills that boost IDA funding have been approved in both chambers.

If eventually approved into law, it will boost hunger and disaster relief. The UN World Food Program (WFP), UNICEF and other relief agencies receive IDA funding. WFP and UNICEF, for example, are on the front lines of disaster relief in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and other nations. These agencies are facing major funding shortfalls because of the size of the emergencies.

The IDA funding allows them to respond quickly to these and other emergencies triggered by conflict or natural disasters. The World Food Program USA reports the "House allocated $1.801 billion, the Senate went a step further and provided $1.895 billion" in funding for IDA.

WFP USA president Rick Leach says,

I commend both the House and Senate Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittees on their proposed funding levels for the International Disaster Assistance account. These funds will have a significant impact on the UN World Food Programme’s efforts to respond to emergency food assistance needs. As we face an increasing number of humanitarian crises across the globe – from Syria to Iraq – it is critical that Congress maintain the bipartisan leadership demonstrated by these subcommittees.”

The proposed spending is still in the draft stage, so it will need to continue to meet approval in both the House and Senate. WFP USA is encouraging its supporters to contact members of Congress asking for their support for IDA funding.

The threat of famine in South Sudan, Central African Republic and Syria seems to be mobilizing bipartisan support. The renewed violence in Iraq has escalated hunger and displacement in the Middle East. In this region of major strategic interest to the U.S., malnutrition is fast increasing.

In addition, conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali are still ongoing, resulting in humanitarian needs. In Haiti, which has fallen off the radar, food needs continue.

Hunger relief has a history of bipartisan support, dating back to the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations both supporting the development of the Food for Peace program. It's critical that Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate come together to support hunger and disaster relief.

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