The U.S. State Department will be awarding millions of dollars to non-governmental agencies (NGO) to conduct operations on the ground in the Great Lakes area of Africa to help women, children, elderly, disabled, and LGBTI refugees.
Although a State Department official told Breitbart News that the department does not know the exact amount of taxpayer money it will ultimately direct towards the grants in fiscal year 2018, in the last fiscal year the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) funded $23 million in NGO projects.
When asked what the money is used for, the official said the help provided is “life-saving.”
“This funding could support life-saving protection and assistance projects for some of the more than 2.5 million refugees across the Great Lakes region of Africa, including [Democratice Republic of Congo], Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda,” the official told Breitbart News.
“Projects could include activities to prevent and respond to gender-based violence and to provide water, sanitation, and hygiene, education, primary healthcare, and livelihoods programming to bolster refugee self-sufficiency,” the official said, adding that the department awards grants “following a formal competitive review of all proposal submissions.”
Breitbart News also asked why it includes sexual orientation as a factor when determining what refugees need assistance. The official said it follows the lead of the United Nations for the treatment of refugees.
“LGBTI individuals may themselves be women, children, elderly, or disabled,” the official explained. “In recent decades, the number of LGBTI refugees and asylum-seekers has risen, with most qualifying as ‘members of a particular social group’ under the 1951 Refugee Convention,” the official said. “LGBTI refugees and asylum-seekers face specific challenges and threats to include discrimination, prejudice, violence, difficulty accessing humanitarian services and barriers to articulating their protection needs during asylum procedures.”
The official said that, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), homosexuality is a crime in 77 countries, and seven of those countries have imposed the death penalty as punishment.
The announcement for the grant explains what is expected from NGOs in the “concept notes” section, which states, in part:
• Include a well-developed plan for training and building the capacity of local staff and service providers as well as building refugee self-sufficiency;
• Include an explanation for how the proposed project supports long-term sustainability in line with national strategies, especially for health activities;
• Address gaps in services for the most vulnerable including women, children, people living with disabilities, the elderly, and LGBTI refugees.
The State Department website explains which NGOs are traditionally chosen for these types of grants: “The majority of this funding was programmed through international organizations and, to a lesser extent, non-profit non-governmental organizations (NGOs). A large majority of Bureau-managed funds are allocated to international organizations, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).”