‘Unacceptable’: Pope’s Judgment On Ethnic Conflict In Nigerian Diocese of AhiaraPrevious Article
Uphold A Womans Right To Contribute Fully to Society, Pope SaysNext Article
Breaking News

House OKs Bill To Aid Genocide Victims; Senate Urged To Act Quickly

Line Spacing+- AFont Size+- Print This Article
House OKs Bill To Aid Genocide Victims; Senate Urged To Act Quickly

(CNS) — The co-authors of a House bill that will provide humanitarian aid to
Christians and other religious groups suffering at the hands of Islamic State
militants praised the June 6 House passage of the measure and urged the Senate
to quickly act on it.

House unanimously approved the bipartisan Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency
Relief and Accountability Act, or H.R. 390, in a voice vote.

by Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California, the bill
will provide emergency relief and aid to the victims of genocide in Iraq and
Syria, particularly the Christians in the Middle East as well as other
religious minorities.

humanitarian aid will be directed to groups such as the Chaldean Catholic
Archdiocese of Irbil, Iraq, which provides direct care for victims, and those
groups in turn get the assistance to those in need.

“This legislation appropriately focuses on atrocities being committed
against Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle
East, especially in Iraq and Syria,” the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ international policy committee said in a June 9 letter urging swift passage by the Senate.

Writing as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, said: “As the situation in Syria and Iraq remains dire for minorities, I note that H.R.
390 calls for much needed assistance for survivors of genocide and would allow
faith-based organizations — such as Catholic Relief Services — that are already
providing humanitarian assistance to these populations, to access U.S.
government funding in their work.”

He addressed his letter to Sens. Bob. Corker, R-Tennessee, and Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, who are, respectively, chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The bishop pointed out that “over the years, the Catholic Church has consistently supported Christians and
other religious and ethnic minorities facing persecution in the Middle East,
many of whom are internally displaced or have fled as refugees.”

On June 7 Smith
and Eshoo held a news conference urging the Senate to continue the progress
of this legislation to ensure the swift direction of funds to the Middle East.

are celebrating something today that we believe is something that is going to
make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of people who have been
persecuted by ISIS,” Eshoo said. “Certainly the Christians, those of my own
background, the Yezidis, and other minorities in the Middle East.”

2013, Smith has actively worked through hearings and mission trips to spread
awareness of the situation of the victims of ISIS in the Middle East. Part of
the effort was to get the United States to admit that what was occurring was

I think many of you know, Congress has been trying for the better part of
three years to finally get a designation of genocide being committed by ISIS
against Christians, Yezidis and some other Muslim minorities in the area,” Smith
said. “Ultimately, it did become a policy of the United States of America.”

then-Secretary of State John Kerry issued a declaration of genocide about ISIS
in March 2016, it was one of the few times in the nation’s history that the U.S.
government had made such a determination. Eshoo said the declaration requires
further legislation that will confirm what the victims have endured.

too, like people in our country, want their lives to go on, especially for
their children,” Eshoo said. “The State Department would not allow any U.S.
dollars to flow to church organizations and this legislation allows for that.”

addition to sending humanitarian aid for groups in Iraq and Syria to provide to
genocide victims, the bill also ensures that the government’s money will be

will be accountability for these dollars,” Eshoo said. “But it is so essential
to work with those who are on the ground that know exactly where the dollars
should go.”

Knight Carl Anderson, the CEO of the Knights of Columbus, has worked with Smith
to get support of the bill and has testified on behalf of the measure.

must have the courage to confront reality and then we must have the courage to
change reality,” Anderson said.

Knights of Columbus has donated over $12 million to groups in the
Middle East aiding Christian refugees. In addition, they recently began an ad
campaign in an effort to raise more funds.

are people who are still praying in the language of Jesus,” Anderson said.
“They have every right to survive.”

Catholic Bishop Bawai A. Soro, who heads the Diocese of St. Peter the Apostle, which is based near San Diego, also attended the news conference. He said the current
situation for Christians in the Middle East remains fragile, as they suffer at
the hands of radical Islamic groups.

is very unfortunate that Iraq as a country still lacks the certain constitutional
amendments that guarantee liberty and equality to all Iraqis,” Bishop Soro
said. “It remains our dream that the Christians will not be second-class
citizens in their own native homeland, Iraq. But instead, they will hopefully
soon have equal social, economic, political, lives and statuses just as all
Iraqis have.”

Elias, president of the human rights group Yazda, whose own brother and other
relatives were killed by ISIS, spoke to the critical aspect of the bill.

this legislation has been passed by the House, we urge the Senate to act upon it
and expedite it as quickly as possible,” Elias said. “These Yezidis and
Christians are in dire need for such assistance in order to survive as
religious minorities in our region.”

said that they have contacted several representatives in the Senate who they
believe will offer similar support to the bill. He said he hopes they will vote
within the next couple of weeks.

think its very important that the Senate moves quickly — within weeks,” Smith
said. “There’s no reason for delay on this. Its not a complicated bill.”


Vatican Live Video Feed

Pope Francis on Twitter