– Release date: 19 November 2002
Pressure to cut UNFPA funding
Following the decision in July by US President, George Bush, not to grant $35 million to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), pressure is being asserted by anti-family planning groups on Governments world-wide to withdraw their support for UNFPA also.
The US President's decision to withhold UNFPA funding was made even though the money had already been appropriated by the US Congress earlier in the year.
Prior to the Bush decision, the US State Department mandated an Independent Assessment Team to investigate claims that UNFPA was associated with China's one-child policy. The investigation concluded that there was no evidence of such an association. It was generally accepted that, as a result of this investigation, funding would be released.
Ireland is an important donor to the UNFPA. In 2001, Ireland contributed 1.84 million euro to the UNFPA. This represented an increase of 45% on the previous year. We are now among the top 14 donors to UNFPA in the world, surpassing other EU states, including France, Spain and Austria.
Some groups in Ireland are now heavily campaigning for an end to this funding.
The effect of the withdrawal of US funding
The UNFPA estimate that if the $34 million was released by the US Administration, it would have been possible to prevent the following:
- 4,700 maternal deaths
- 77,000 infant and child deaths
- 2 million unwanted pregnancies
- 800,000 induced abortions
The decision by President Bush will result in the return of back-street abortions in some regions. Lack of adequate funding for UNFPA will result in the withdrawal of family planning services to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.
EU funding to fill the gap
Contrary to some media reports, the EU has not developed an additional budget line to fill the gap created by the loss of US funding to UNFPA. A budget of 32 million euro was set aside earlier this year by the EU for UNFPA and IPPF projects (International Planned Parenthood Federation). This budget was decided regardless of the US withdrawl and has not yet been released.
Why Irish funding of UNFPA must continue
Ireland's funding of UNFPA must continue so that people in developing nations and in regions of conflict can benefit from access to family planning and quality reproductive healthcare. This is more important than ever, in light of the US withdrawal of funding.
Ireland's continued support for UNFPA will encourage other nations to support the agency and we can play an instrumental role in putting pressure on the US to resume its contribution to the UNFPA in 2003.
380 women become pregnant: half of them did not plan or want the pregnancy.
110 women experience a pregnancy-related complication.
11 people are newly infected with HIV/AIDS.
1 woman dies of a pregnancy-related cause.