Source: Khmer Times
The US government has pulled any future funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a group focused on reproductive rights for women and girls, over claims it has practiced coercive abortions and involuntary sterilizations in China.
In a letter issued by the US State Department on Monday, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker said it was dropping the funding because the UNFPA “supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”
UNFPA, which works closely with the Cambodian government and local NGOs, released a statement yesterday labeling the claims as erroneous.
“UNFPA refutes this claim, as all of its work promotes the human rights of individuals and couples to make their own decisions, free of coercion or discrimination,” the statement said.
“The support we received over the years from the government and people of the United States has saved tens of thousands of mothers from preventable deaths and disabilities.”
In a January draft executive order to cut UN funding, the Trump administration singled out the UNFPA and included a provision on US funding for organizations that support coercive abortion or sterilization services.
While the UNFPA could not provide further quotes at press time, it referred to a statement released by the UN Foundation on Monday strongly supporting the UNFPA’s work.
“The United Nations Foundation calls the action to cut vital US support to the UNFPA unacceptable and in stark contrast to American values,” UN Foundation President and CEO Kathy Calvin said in the statement.
“UNFPA does not fund or perform abortions or forced sterilizations anywhere in the world.”
Last year, the UNFPA worked with the Ministry of Planning during Cambodia’s census as well as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in running consultative workshops on domestic violence.
The UN Foundation’s statement said the UNFPA’s work was of critical importance, providing more than nine million people with HIV/AIDS preventative services, domestic violence counselling, pregnancy check-ups and safe childhood services.
“The US is one of the largest contributors to UNFPA, and eliminating US funds threatens the health and rights of millions of girls and women around the world, particularly those in crisis situations,” Ms. Calvin said.
In 2015, the US contributed $979 million to UNFPA.
In the fiscal year 2016, the US Congress appropriated $32.5 million to the UNFPA’s core funding, while the US also allocated $38.3 million to the UN agency through non-core funding to its humanitarian work, according to the Washington-based advocacy and policy group Guttmacher Institute.
The UNFPA provided reproductive health services to more than 23 million women in 2015.
The US embassy in Phnom Penh was unable to say which UNFPA services in Cambodia will be affected and whether the funding will be redirected other aid groups.