US Will Still Be Top Donor of Refugee Aid in Trump Era, Nikki Haley Says
The foreign policy of US President Donald Trump continues to take shape this week as he and top officials make their first official trip abroad and unveil their proposed budget to set America’s priorities over the next year.
And in Jordan on Sunday, those priorities became slightly — if surprisingly — clearer, as the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, promised Syrian refugees that the US would remain the top donor to refugee programs in the world, according to the Associated Press.
"We're the No. 1 donor here through this crisis. That's not going to stop. We're not going to stop funding this," Haley said. "The fact that I'm here shows we want to see what else needs to be done."
Haley’s statement was surprising given the fact that both she and Trump have indicated that US funding to the UN will be cut in the 2018 budget, though she has said she thinks cuts could come from pulling back on peacekeeping missions around the world. The US has spent more than $6.5 billion in aid for Syrian refugees, according to the AP.
Her remarks also offered a hint at what’s to come in Trump’s proposed budget, set to be unveiled Tuesday, though Congress will ultimately decide the country’s funding priorities. She made the visit to the refugee camp in Jordan while Trump visited Saudi Arabia on Sunday to give a speech on Islam and terrorism to Sunni Muslim leaders there.
In Jordan, Haley spent time visiting with the more than 5 million Syrians who have fled the civil war that has torn apart their home country, as well as the aid workers offering support over the past seven years that the conflict has been ongoing.
On the ground, she inspected stacks of food aid intended for a convoy into opposition-held territory in Syria that included boxes of peas and tuna and canned meat. She watched as refugees living in the Jordan camp had their eyes scanned by a computer system to manage food distribution.
She also joined a World Food Programme air-drop flight to bring supplies like cooking oil, lentils, and wheat to people in Deir el-Zour, an area controlled by President Bashar al Assad.
She said that US was not pulling back from helping Syrians, and was in fact engaging more to try and bring about an end to the conflict. And while she said she supported Trump’s proposal to stop allowing Syrian refugees into the US temporarily (it was later blocked by a federal court), she said a more important goal was getting refugees back home, and ensuring their homes were safe.