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Trump's White House Just Said It Will Stop Funding Some UN Relief Efforts

US Vice President Mike Pence said this week that the State Department will stop funding United Nations relief programs that help persecuted and vulnerable communities around the world, CNN reports.

Instead, he said, the US government will direct this funding through USAID, the country’s chief foreign aid agency. He didn’t say which UN programs will stop receiving US funds.

"President (Donald) Trump has ordered the State Department to stop funding ineffective relief efforts at the United Nations ... and from this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID," Pence said at an event hosted by In Defense of Christians, which seeks to protect Christians in the Middle East, according to CNN.

“We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups," Pence said, per a report from The Hill.

Take Action: Tweet Your Senator to Ask Them to Fully Fund Foreign Aid

The move was motivated by the White House’s perception that the UN “often failed to help the most vulnerable communities especially religious minorities." Further, Pence argued that the UN was discriminating against the faith-based organizations who try to provide aid.

"While faith-based groups with proven track records and deep roots in the region are more than willing to assist, the United Nations continues to deny their funding requests," Pence said.

The UN’s relief aid is channeled through many agencies, which then work on the ground with local partners.  

Despite the White House’s criticism, a document outlining the UN’s engagement with faith-based organizations says that “[faith-based groups] presence in local communities, coupled with their capacity to deliver critical services, allow them to mobilize grassroots support, earn the trust of vulnerable groups, and influence cultural norms – all of which make them vital stakeholders in development.”

Pence did not specify in his remarks instances of discrimination against faith-based groups.

Read More: UN Raises $344M for Rohingya Crisis as US Threatens Sanctions Against Myanmar

Humanitarian aid accounts for 16% of US foreign aid spending and goes toward crises ranging from the Rohingya refugee situation in Myanmar and Bangladesh to famines in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Earlier in the year, the Trump administration’s budget proposal suggested cutting funding to the UN by more than 50%, which would deprive the UN of about 10% of its budget.

This was part of a broader proposed reduction in foreign aid by 32%.

When reached for comment, a White House official told CNN that relief aid will be conducted through more direct grants to aid organizations. Through this shift, faith-based organizations may be given greater consideration, the official said.

Read More: How to Talk About Foreign Aid Without Sounding Dumb

The official said that the State Department will work with USAID, the budget office, and Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, to figure out how to allocate funds.  

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