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Federal Shutdown and Sequestration

2013 December 21

CDCThe Impact of Budget Cuts
on Services to Survivors

Programs serving survivors of torture operate on a very frayed shoestring, and – no surprise – are seriously affected whenever their funding sources themselves face cutbacks. Here are a few examples of how recent cutbacks at the Federal level affected the San Diego organization, Survivors of Torture International, courtesy of the organization’s November, 2013, newsletter.

  • Sequestration resulted in a 3% cut in the organization’s grant from the Department of Health & Human Services. That may not sound like much, but for an organization whose budget doesn’t contain any fat, it’s significant.
  • The U.S. also cut back on its contribution to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. The Fund, in turn, had to cut back on its funding to organizations serving survivors.
  • During the government shutdown, hearings for asylum seekers were postponed for more than six months, a severe hardship for many if not most asylum seekers who had already exhausted the very limited government benefits available to them. Many had to turn to voluntary agencies such as Survivors for help.
  • Funding cuts led to more asylum seekers being released from federally-contracted detention centers – a positive step in one respect, since many were being detained unnecessarily, but one which at the same time led to increased demand for services from other agencies.

On another front, Survivors of Torture International applauds the fact that the coming Affordable Care Act will include coverage for refugees and those who have been granted asylum in the U.S., but notes that it will not include those who do not have refugee status or who are seeking, but have not yet received, asylum. (Photo from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

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