The Hidden Cost of War and Conflict
So much demands our attention. In addition to the responsibilities, joys and heartaches we all carry with us every day, we are consumed with news of natural disasters, attacks on our health care and reckless Presidential threats made to a dangerous foreign leader. It’s tempting to tune out, change the channel or retreat to our own comfort zones.
I’m asking you not to do that. Our fellow citizens who are struggling to survive in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes will need our aid and support as they work to recover from natural disaster. Lawmakers in Washington need to hear from you about health care and tax reform and all the many issues that will impact our daily lives. We all must stay focused on the Trump presidency.
But, I’d also like to take a few minutes of your time to highlight another issue that is not getting the attention it deserves. This is, no doubt, partly due to the almost daily buzz created by the unprecedented dysfunction in the Trump Administration. Nonetheless, we should be aware that, in March of this year, the United Nations warned that twenty million people across four countries face starvation and famine unless the international community acts quickly. Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria face a humanitarian crisis not seen since the end of World War II.
The U.N. considers the situation in Yemen to be particularly devastating. Without prompt assistance two thirds of the population will simply starve to death. The Washington Post reports that in Yemen, “nearly 7 million people are in danger of starvation, half a million children already are malnourished, and a cholera epidemic is ravishing the country, with half a million cases and nearly 2,000 deaths reported in fewer than four months.”
This devastation has afflicted some of the poorest countries in the world, but the primary causes are manmade. War and conflict lie at the heart of these crises. The Administration’s failure to devote any attention whatsoever to these humanitarian tragedies diminishes the role that the United States can and should play in the world. Its budget proposals decimate the State Department’s funding and eliminate assistance programs such as the U.S. Food for Peace program. Its priorities illustrate the Trump Administration’s disregard for vulnerable populations and its fundamental failure to grasp our country’s enlightened self-interest in global peace and prosperity.