The Dos and Don’ts of USG Humanitarian Reorganization

Author
Jeremy Konyndyk
Content Type
Working Paper
Institution
Center for Global Development
Abstract
The FY 2020 budget request released by the White House last month contained a sweeping proposal to rationalize and streamline US government humanitarian assistance programs overseas. The proposal would merge the three humanitarian budget accounts (International Disaster Assistance, Migration and Refugee Assistance, and Food For Peace Title II); strip programming responsibilities from the State Department’s refugee bureau and consolidate them entirely in a new humanitarian bureau at USAID; and establish a vaguely described “dual hat” senior leader role to oversee humanitarian activities at both USAID and the State Department. The proposed changes would be the most significant overhaul of USG humanitarian structures in decades. The proposal in its current form is unlikely to get much traction in Congress, where it is seen on both sides of the aisle as dramatically weakening US leadership on refugees. In light of other moves by the administration—like slashing refugee resettlement numbers and treating asylum seekers roughly—that is a legitimate and vital concern. There is ample reason to approach the proposal with caution, particularly the idea of stripping away the refugee bureau’s resources.
Topic
Foreign Aid, Budget, Refugees, Humanitarian Crisis
Political Geography
United States, North America