Friday 15 December 2017

UN chief warns of devastating effects as US cuts funding

US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump

Michelle Nichols

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that a decision by the United States to withdraw all funding to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) could have "devastating effects" on vulnerable women and girls around the world.

The US State Department said it was dropping the funding because the UN Population Fund "supports, or participates in the management of, a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation".

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said yesterday that Mr Guterres "believes that the decision is based on an inaccurate perception of the nature and importance of the work done by UNFPA".

The cut marks US President Donald Trump's first move to curtail funding for the United Nations and its agencies.

UN agencies such as the UNFPA are funded by governments voluntarily. The US was the fourth-largest voluntary donor to UNFPA in 2015, giving $75m (€70.3m) in core budget and earmarked contributions.

The State Department said the funding was cut because UNFPA works with the Chinese government, which "employs measures such as coercive abortion and involuntary sterilisation to carry out its population-control policies".

"While there is no evidence that UNFPA directly engages in coercive abortions or involuntary sterilisations in China, the agency continues to partner with the (government) on family planning, and thus can be found to support, or participate in the management of China's coercive policies," it said.

The UN Fund is focused on family planning as well as maternal and child health in more than 150 countries.

"The secretary-general deeply regrets the decision by the United States to cut financial support for the UN Population Fund, which could have devastating effects on the health of vulnerable women and girls and their families around the world," Mr Dujarric said.

Irish Independent

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