While Trump drags us into domestic turmoil, taking potshots at access to health care, Meals on Wheels, and “fake news”, nominating cabinet officers who will dismantle their departments and a Supreme Court nominee beholden to the rich, he has succeeded above all in one particular. He has driven coverage of the refugee crisis from the media front page. Yet, even now, the crisis continues to escalate, swamping the resources of aid organizations and European states. The Trump response has been to delay existing efforts to resettle any refugees in the United States, bar entry of any refugees from six Muslim countries, and slash our country’s budget for aid and assistance. Nicholas Kristoff’s op-ed in the Sunday New York Times addresses this national scandal: “‘That Food Saved My Life,’ and Trump Wants to Cut It Off“.
Here’s part of Kristoff’s intro:
“’We are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations,’ warned Stephen O’Brien, the U.N.’s humanitarian chief. ‘Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death.’
How is Trump responding to this crisis? By slashing humanitarian aid, increasing the risk that people starve in the four countries — Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria. The result is a perfect storm: Millions of children tumbling toward famine just as America abdicates leadership and cuts assistance.”
“It’s important to note that ‘all of these crises are fundamentally man-made, driven by conflict,’ as Neal Keny-Guyer, C.E.O. of Mercy Corps, put it. And the U.S. bears some responsibility.
In particular, the catastrophe in Yemen — the country with the greatest number of people at risk of famine — should be an international scandal. A Saudi-led coalition, backed by the United States, has imposed a blockade on Yemen that has left two-thirds of the population in need of assistance. In Yemen, ‘to starve’ is transitive.
The suffering there gets little attention, partly because Saudi Arabia mostly keeps reporters from getting to areas subject to its blockade.”
“Likewise,” says Kristoff, “the government in South Sudan this month denied me a visa; it doesn’t want witnesses to its famine.”
Please take a look at Kristoff’s column in full. It is on point, articulate, and an improvement on anything I paraphrase. I’ll just add my two cents in this: First – the neglect by Trump of our humanitarian obligations, both at home and abroad, is a national disgrace that has and will continue to sully the reputation of this country. There’s no excuse for our failure to address this unnecessary human suffering. Secondly – even pragmatically, Trump is destabilizing such order as remains in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The world is suffering from ever growing populations of millions of desperate people, populations whom Trump visibly disdains and on whom he turns his back. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that what goes around comes around.