Central America Aid Bill Will Improve Livelihoods and Reduce Migration

Angie Galvez sips her drink after enjoying her meal provided in rural Guatemala. USAID provides funding for school meals (Food for Education) in some of the most impoverished and malnurished areas. Photo: Joe Molieri / Bread for the World

Washington, D.C. – Bread for the World applauds the bipartisan leadership of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for its unanimous passage of the United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act (H.R. 2615). The bill would provide $577 million in foreign assistance to the Northern Triangle countries of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) to address the root causes of migration.

“We are encouraged by the bipartisan commitment to address the root causes of migration – including hunger and malnutrition,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “H.R. 2615 will ensure that aid continues to flow to a region that is dealing with some of the highest rates of hunger and malnutrition in the world.”

According to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan, hunger is a primary reason that many families from Central America flee their home countries. Nearly half of Guatemala’s children are chronically malnourished. In Guatemala’s Huehuetenango province, which sends more migrants to the U.S. than any other region, the malnutrition rates are near 70 percent.

U.S development and humanitarian programs have been making a difference. In some regions of Guatemala, these programs have contributed to a 15 percent decrease in poverty and a 12 percent decrease in stunting caused by malnutrition.

“U.S. assistance is improving nutrition and improving livelihoods,” Beckmann said. “It allows families who are trying to give their children a better future to choose to stay close to home and contribute to their communities, rather than fleeing to the United States. Efforts like this legislation are both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.”

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