Bill to Provide Aid to Religious Minorities in Iraq/Syria Stuck in Foreign Relations Committee
35 NGOs Sign Letter to Senate Leadership Asking Them to Prioritize HR 390
07/12/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) is pleased to announce that 35 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have joined in signing a letter to the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, Senators McConnell and Schumer, urging them to prioritize the passage of HR 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act. This bill would provide critical humanitarian aid to religious minorities who have been categorized as victims of ISIS’s genocide.
The letter, which includes the signatures of NGOs representing aid organizations and a multitude of faith groups, asks Senators McConnell and Schumer to prioritize HR 390 for passage by unanimous consent so that the president will have the chance to sign this bill into law as soon as possible.
Since 2014, it’s believed that more than 100,000 Iraqi Christians have been displaced, with many still fearing to return home despite the gradual defeat of ISIS in the region. Many Yazidis, Christians, and other religious minorities who have been targeted for genocide continue to live in camps and unfinished construction sites with little access to resources or employment and few opportunities to rebuild.
The letter states, “Christians have lived in Iraq since the first century and there were as many as 1.4 million in 2002. Sectarian violence and targeting of Christians reduced their presence to 500,000 by 2013, the year before ISIS started targeting them for genocide. Today, less than 250,000 Christians remain in Iraq and their number continues to decrease by the day. Unless aid swiftly reaches this vulnerable community, the lack of funding may lead to a complete collapse of the aid efforts that they depend on and permanently drive them out of Iraq.”
Nate Lance, ICC’s Advocacy Manager, said of the bill, “I’m hopeful that Senators McConnell and Schumer, along with their colleagues in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will heed the call of this letter and prioritize HR 390 for passage. Since April, ICC has been working tirelessly on efforts to direct US aid to the most vulnerable victims of ISIS atrocities. The future of these religious minorities is crucial to the religious diversity of the Middle East as well as the future security and stability of the region. I can’t emphasize enough the sense of urgency in providing the victims of these atrocities with the aid they need and deserve.”