VIDEO: [Schlama Foundation] Video documents the restoration of one family’s home in Bakhdeda, Ninevah Plains.that was destroyed by ISIS [Nov. 2017]
A year ago, Vice President Mike Pence pledged direct support to Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities forced out of their homelands in Iraq by ISIS. Religious freedom advocates and groups in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq cheered the news from a US administration that had long promised to prioritize persecuted believers, only to disappoint such groups when—due to bureaucratic hang-ups—the money didn’t come.
Now, the Trump administration has engaged leaders on the ground and doubled down on its promise to help. The government’s latest multimillion-dollar assistance plan, announced Tuesday, brings the total funding over the past year for religious minorities in Iraq to nearly $300 million, with allocations to rebuild communities, preserve heritage sites, secure left-behind explosives, and empower survivors to seek justice.
The announcement came just as Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako, the head of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church, complained that “there’s been nothing up to now” from the US.
But American efforts in the beleaguered region already show signs of improving.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) “has been very slow in getting aid out the door, and it’s just starting to make a difference, with reconstructing schools, electricity switched on, etc., since mid-September,” said Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute.
Last month, USAID administrator Mark Green deployed Max Primorac, appointed as a special representative for minority assistance, to Erbil. His job is to help administer programs on the ground and address the kinds of problems that slowed the funding process earlier this year.
USAID also announced last week a new collaboration with the Catholic group Knights of Columbus, which joins 36 local, 11 faith-based, and 27 international partners in northern Iraq. They will “work together to identify those in need with greater precision; mobilize private and public sector resources to help them; and collaborate on efforts to prevent, and respond to, genocide and persecution in Iraq and across the region,” Green said. Knights of Columbus has given more than $20 million to the region since 2014, with plans to donate $5 million more over the next six months, Crux reported.
This article continues at [Christianity Today] Sparing Nineveh: US Pledges $300 Million So Iraq’s Christians Can Return Home