US House passes bill to authorize government funding for relief efforts for ISIS victims

The U.S. House of Representatives just passed a bill on June 6 that would authorize the government to fund relief groups that directly provide help to Iraqi and Syrian Christians who were displaced because of the atrocities of the Islamic State. 

REUTERS / Umit Bektas
Kurdish refugees from the Syrian town of Kobani sit in front of their tents in a camp in the southeastern town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province, October 5, 2014.

Last year, former Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the atrocities ISIS committed against Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities in the Middle East amounted to genocide. In January, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) introduced the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act to allow the Department of Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development to fund organizations that directly provide aid to the victims of ISIS' acts of genocide, The Christian Post detailed.

The bill would also fund entities that launch criminal investigations on those involved in genocide, war crimes, and other crimes against humanity in Iraq and Syria. It also aimed to order the State Department to push other governments to identify and bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.

Although the U.S. has given Iraq millions of dollars to provide aid to the displaced Christians, advocacy group In Defense of Christians said Iraqi refugees have not benefited from it. In a conversation with the Post last year, Archbishop of Erbil Bashar Warda echoed this sentiment and said his archdiocese did not receive support from the Iraqi government for its relief efforts.

IDC executive director Philippe Nassif explained that the new bill will ensure that U.S. funding will reach the displaced minorities who are in need of assistance. Unless adequate help reaches the persecuted Christians, they will continue to leave their home country, and the U.S. does not want this to happen.

The bill has yet to pass through the Senate before it will reach the office of the U.S. president.

Meanwhile, the Knights of Columbus has launched a new fund to aid Christians in the Middle East and North Africa who have been victimized by ISIS in its acts of genocide. The move comes after Pope Francis and U.S. President Trump discussed Christian persecution during their meeting at the Vatican, Town Hall reported.

The Knights of Columbus in now inviting people to donate to the Christian Refugee Relief Fund so that they can also participate in the efforts to address the refugee crisis. The organization also promised to match up to $1 million in donations.