Congressional Research Service. August 1, 2013.
The majority of humanitarian emergencies worldwide stem from natural disasters or from conflicts. Congress has consistently supported humanitarian efforts as a means of responding to crises in the short term, taking the lead, and promoting a U.S. presence. Intervention results in varying amounts of relief and recovery assistance and can have an important impact not only on the relief operation itself but on broader foreign policy issues. In the 113th Congress, international humanitarian and refugee assistance is expected to continue to have a strong measure of bipartisan support, with key policy issues focused on budget priorities, levels and types of funding, the sources of other support available worldwide, and the ways in which operational assistance is delivered.
http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/212995.pdf [PDF format, 18 pages].
Congressional Research Service. June 14, 2013.
The popular-uprising-turned-armed-rebellion in Syria is in its third year, and seems poised to continue, with the government and a bewildering array of militias locked in a bloody struggle of attrition. The Obama Administration has signaled a pending expansion of U.S. civilian and military assistance to the opposition in the wake of the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that President Bashar al Asad’s forces used chemical weapons in limited attacks in recent months. U.S. officials and many analysts have asserted that President Asad and his supporters will be forced from power, but few offer specific, credible timetables for a resolution to the crisis. Further escalation in fighting or swift regime change could jeopardize the security of chemical and conventional weapons stockpiles, threaten minority groups, or lead to wider regional conflict.
http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/211136.pdf [PDF format, 59 pages].
Center for Global Development. June 3, 2013.
American food aid helps around 50 million people every year, but it could reach millions more. Requiring it to be in kind, purchased in the United States, and transported on US-flagged ships makes food aid less efficient and effective than it should be. President Obama’s FY2014 budget would relax in-kind and cargo preference requirements and eliminate monetization, the practice of donating food aid to private organizations that sell it in developing countries to fund their projects. The U.S. Agency for International Development estimates that such reforms would help food aid reach as many as 4 million more people for the same amount of money. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
http://www.cgdev.org/sites/default/files/food-aid-for-the-21st-century.pdf [PDF format, 4 pages].
Congressional Research Service. February 13, 2013.
In most cases, the success or failure of U.S. foreign aid programs is not entirely clear, in part because historically, most aid programs have not been evaluated for the purpose of determining their actual impact. The purpose and methodologies of foreign aid evaluation have varied over the decades, responding to political and fiscal circumstances. Aid evaluation practices and policies have variously focused on meeting program management needs, building institutional learning, accounting for resources, informing policymakers, and building local oversight and project design capacity.
http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/205205.pdf [PDF format, 27 pages].