A new national poll from the International Rescue Committee found that only 15 percent of registered U.S. voters know “a lot” about the extreme food shortages and near-famine conditions in Africa and the Middle East. Once briefed, however, the issue was listed as a top concern ― especially among millennials.
The poll findings support United Nations data showing a trend of “public fatigue,” or a decline in interest, in global hunger crises for the first time in several years. Somalia and South Sudan, in particular, “crises which normally command high levels of public attention,” have declined in internet traffic and searches, the U.N. noted in its 2016 Data and Trends report.
The slackening interest comes at time when the world faces its worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, yet many global powers, including President Donald Trump’s administration in Washington, are fighting to drastically reduce foreign aid.
Nearly half of the 1,351 people surveyed in the IRC poll believe the U.S. should “cut back” in assisting developing nations. Just over one-third think the U.S. has an obligation to provide support.
Trump has proposed slashing the 2018 U.S. Agency for International Development budget by 28 percent. Such cuts could cost lives, especially in embattled countries like Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, aid workers have warned.
The president also signed an executive order seeking to reduce the number of refugees who could be resettled in the U.S. from 110,000 to 50,000 in the 2017 fiscal year. In addition, Trump has imposed a ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority nations, including Somalia and Yemen.