'Gratuitously cruel': United Nations guts more than $600 million in funding to global peacekeeping programs

After President Donald Trump announced plans in April to cut more than a billion dollars in funding to global peacekeeping efforts, the United Nations followed suit Wednesday by announcing plans to pull more than $US600 million from its peacekeeping budget.

UN diplomats said the cuts would amount to roughly 7% of its peacekeeping budget for the upcoming year, AFP reports.

The cuts come amid pressure from both the US and the EU, which also wanted to see the UN peacekeeping budget reduced to no more than $US7.3 billion rather than the $US7.87 billion that was spent last year.

Now, “cuts across the board” will take place in the UN’s peacekeeping missions across the globe, a diplomat who wished to remain anonymous told AFP.

Before the cuts, the US paid 28.5% of the UN’s peacekeeping budget, with China, Japan, Germany and France then following the US. In 2017, the UN led peacekeeping missions in countries such as Syria, South Sudan, Haiti and the border between India and Pakistan.

With the UN currently running peacekeeping missions in countries plagued by wars, famines and genocides, such a drastic cut could have disastrous consequences for people who are already battling for their lives, a UN spokesperson told BBC.

“The figures presented would simply make it impossible for the UN to continue all of its essential work advancing peace, development, human rights and humanitarian assistance,” UN Secretary General spokesperson Antonio Guterres told BBC.

The UN is scheduled to vote later this week on whether to cut the number of peacekeepers in the Darfur region by nearly half.

Now that both the US and the UN have sought to decrease their peacekeeping budgets, the cuts could leave thousands of struggling people with even worse access to food, clean water, shelter, and medication, Jeremy Konyndyk, a former head of disaster response for the Obama administration, wrote in The Guardian in May. He then went on to argue that while the role of peacekeepers is a controversial one, cutting programs entirely puts people in even greater danger.

“This budget will harm tens of millions of lives to save fractions of pennies,” wrote Konyndyk, adding that cuts to peacekeeping programs could also lead to greater costs to de-escalate conflict in the coming years . “It is gratuitously cruel and unbecoming of the deep American traditions of helping those in need around the world.”

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