By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 21: The United States government has sanctioned 17 million USD for Tibetans inside occupied Tibet as well as exiled Tibetans in India and Nepal for the fiscal year of 2019. President Donald Trump signed the ‘Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019’ on February 15 marking the second year in a row the same amount of fund is appropriated for Tibetans by Washington DC.
The total of $17 million will be divided with $8 million for Tibetans inside Tibet and $6 Million for Tibetan community in India and Nepal, in addition to $3 million to strengthen the capacity of Tibetan institutions and governance in exile.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 of the US government pledged $8,000,000, “made available to non-governmental organizations to support activities which preserve cultural traditions and promote sustainable development, education, and environmental conservation in Tibetan communities in the Tibet Autonomous Region and in other Tibetan communities in China,” under the heading ‘‘Economic Support Fund’’ and $6,000,000 “for programs to promote and preserve Tibetan culture, development, and the resilience of Tibetan communities in India and Nepal, and to assist in the education and development of the next generation of Tibetan leaders from such communities”. The Act also approved “not less than $3,000,000 shall be made available for programs to strengthen the capacity of Tibetan institutions and governance”, the details of the funding stated.
The exile Tibetan government, known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration based here, welcomed the development. CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay said, “We remain grateful to the US government and the Congress for their generous and continued financial assistance towards the Tibetan community in Tibet and exile.”
The CTA’s Social and Resource Development Fund (SARD) is largely responsible for mobilisation of the fund. Its head Kelsang Dorjee Aukatsang told Tibet.net, “These funds are critical in Central Tibetan Administration’s efforts to ensure the long-term resiliency of the Tibetan community, culture, key institutions, democracy, and leadership. The deployment of these funds are already beginning to produce results and we remain committed to spending the funds in an efficient, transparent and high impact manner.”
The CTA receives funds and aid from various international governments and individuals, chief of which is the US government, for its operation. In May 2017, US President Trump proposed zero aid in 2018 to the Tibetans, overturning the long held American policy of providing financial assistance to the community for safeguarding their unique identity that has since been under threat since the Chinese invasion. The Trump administration at the time said he wanted other countries to take over.
The United States government appropriates funds to the exile Tibetan community through initiatives such as the “economic support fund” beginning 2002 as well through affiliates such as US Agency for International Development (USAID) and National Endowment for Democracy (NED).