Deeply concerned by the United States government proposals to end State Department role in international humanitarianism, dozens of foreign policy experts and humanitarian leaders – including Jesuit Refugee Service Executive Director, David Robinson – called for careful consideration in a new report released by Refugees International.
In the report, Honoring a Distinguished Tradition: U.S. World Leadership on Refugee and Displacement Crisis Response and U.S. Government Reorganization, experts stressed the “U.S. government should consider how to make humanitarian efforts as effective as possible while minimizing disruption to aspects that are functioning well.”
The report outlines the different functions at risk as the Trump Administration contemplates consolidation of the functions of both the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
PRM has long served as a link between humanitarian assistance, national security, and international diplomacy. The report warns eliminating PRM and transferring its overseas assistance role to USAID and its refugee admissions responsibilities to the Department of Homeland Security would ignore its core capabilities of integrating diplomacy with humanitarian assistance.
“Dismantling PRM would be a huge mistake as it would erode U.S. influence around the world,” said JRS/USA’s Executive Director, David Robinson.
“Consolidation of the functions of either agency into the other would weaken the functions that are inherent in their respective organizational missions,” the report states suggesting to rather “enhance ‘jointness’ and collaboration, which would not only preserve essential functions of both State and USAID, but also enhance effectiveness in U.S. humanitarian response.”
“Most importantly,” adds the report, “The elimination of the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration – the bureau established to manifest U.S. diplomatic, legal and moral concerns about refugees – will send an obvious and powerful signal, within the United States and to the rest of the world, that the United States is diminishing its historical concerns about the displaced and disenfranchised.”