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UNFPA Global Population Policy Update
U.S. Administration's Decision Not to Restore Funding to UNFPA
ISSUE 35 - 16 July 2004
For the third consecutive year, the U.S. Administration has decided not to release congressionally-appropriated funds of $34 million to UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, for allegedly supporting coercive abortion and sterilization in China. Today's decision by the Bush Administration is contrary to the outcomes of various fact-finding missions, including one by the U.S. State Department that have concluded there is no evidence indicating that UNFPA is supporting or participating in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China. More importantly, the decision will affect the lives of millions of women, men and young people in the developing world, who depend on the life-saving work of UNFPA in providing the desperately needed reproductive health services.
Below is the press release by UNFPA on the U.S. decision.
UNFPA Regrets U. S. Administration's Decision Not to Restore Funding
UNITED NATIONS, New York, 16 July 2004 - The U.S. administration's decision not to release $34 million appropriated by Congress for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is regrettable, UNFPA said today. The money is urgently needed to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS, prevent maternal deaths, provide family planning and reduce recourse to abortion.
The administration's stated reason for continuing to withhold funding for a third year, an assertion that UNFPA supports coerced abortions in China, is baseless, the Fund added.
"The United States' contribution could have saved thousands of lives," said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA's Executive Director.
With over 1 billion adolescents entering their reproductive years and demand for reproductive health services increasing all over the world, each dollar makes a difference.
UNFPA estimates that the withheld $34 million could have helped prevent as many as 2 million unwanted pregnancies and nearly 800,000 abortions; 4,700 maternal deaths and over 77,000 infant and child deaths in many countries. The funds could also have been used to scale up promising maternal health and HIV-prevention efforts.
"Historically, the United States has been a world leader in promoting reproductive health and family planning and we hope it will take up that role again," said Ms. Obaid. "Promoting global health and alleviating poverty are urgent tasks that require strong partnerships and international cooperation."
UNFPA works in nearly 140 countries to increase access to reproductive health services, including family planning, to promote safe motherhood, and to prevent unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, including among adolescents.
In withholding the funds, the U.S. administration seems to have accepted false and discredited allegations about UNFPA's work in China.
"UNFPA has not, does not and will not ever condone or support coercive activities of any kind, anywhere," Ms. Obaid said.
An assessment team sent to China in 2002 by the U.S. State Department found no evidence that the Fund supported or participated in the management of a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilizationâ€”on the contrary, it reported that UNFPA had registered its strong opposition to such practices. That team recommended that funds allocated by Congress be released to UNFPA. Three other independent teams, from the United Nations, the British Parliament and a multi-faith panel of religious leaders, reached the same conclusion.
The United States is the only country to deny funding to UNFPA for non-budgetary reasons.
All previous issues of the UNFPA Global Population Policy Update can now be found on UNFPA's website at: http://www.unfpa.org/parlamentarians/news/newsletters.htm
This newsletter is issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in its capacity as secretariat for the biannual International Parliamentarians' Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (the first conference was held in November 2002, in Ottawa, Canada). These dispatches are intended to highlight important developments taking place around the world so that parliamentarians can be kept informed of and learn from the successes, setbacks and challenges encountered by their fellow parliamentarians in other countries and regions in their efforts to promote the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (September 1994, Cairo, Egypt). It should be noted that UNFPA does not necessarily endorse all of the policies described in this newsletter.
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