Washington, Dec 7 (IANS): US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been criticised by two Democrat lawmakers for withholding aid essential for women and children in Central American countries.

“We believe that the Trump administration’s counterproductive decision to cut off US assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has damaged our standing in the Americas,” two Democrat lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said in a letter addressed to Pompeo on Friday.

The lawmakers, committee chairman Eliot Engel and member Albio Sires, urged Pompeo to greenlight $48 million of aid due in fiscal year 2017 and $527.6 million due in fiscal year 2019.

Engel and Sires said that they were “extremely disappointed” by the withholding of aid, underscoring that the funds are “essential” to help children and families in the Central American countries.

The letter also highlighted the intransparency of the decision process to release the aid.

El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, a group of countries also known as the “Northern Triangle”, was denied further US aid earlier this year, as President Donald Trump’s administration claimed that they were not doing enough to curb the flow of immigrants into America.

The administration in October had said that it would partially restart the flow of US aid to the three countries, but Engel said the move was too late.

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