IRIN Examines Impact Of U.S. Government Shutdown On Foreign Aid Operations

IRIN: What effect did the U.S. shutdown have on foreign aid?
“Humanitarian groups say the record 35-day halt to the funding of routine government activity stopped short of causing massive disruptions: NGOs including Save the Children and Mercy Corps, as well as the U.N.’s World Food Programme, said the shutdown hadn’t impacted their operations. It was a slightly different story at USAID. The U.S. government agency responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance reported that as of January 23 (two days before the shutdown ended) just over half of non-contractor ‘direct hire employees’ (1,706 out of 3,311) had been furloughed, meaning they were instructed not to report for work, nor were they working remotely. Though proportionally fewer staff were furloughed overseas, the cash freeze appeared to be felt most strongly on humanitarian and diplomatic operations outside the United States… During the shutdown, the U.S. government said it would provide $20 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuela, but its aid delivery department was hampered by the government shutdown…” (Oakford, 1/31).