Washington D.C., Jun 7, 2017 / 15:55 pm
After a myriad of reports of United States humanitarian aid not reaching Christian genocide survivors in Iraq, their advocates in the U.S. are hoping that will change very soon.
“There is an emergency here,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chair of the House panel on global human rights, stated at a press conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday regarding emergency relief for Iraq and Syria genocide victims.
“We’re not asking for new money,” he said June 7. “We’re asking to make sure the money that’s in the pot is provided to those who have been left out and left behind for about three years.”
After forces of the Islamic State swept through Syria and Iraq in 2014, the U.S. has sent humanitarian aid for the victims of the caliphate, who were driven from their homes by the hundreds of thousands. Many fled to refugee camps or have been living in temporary shelters, at risk of disease and malnutrition or starvation.
However, many Christians reportedly avoided refugee camps because of the security situation, and U.S. aid that was sent to the central government of Iraq or local governments has not reached Christians. There has been an “appalling lack of equitable distribution of U.S. humanitarian assistance when it came to the Christians and the Yazidis,” Smith said.
Thus, Christian genocide survivors in Iraq are almost completely dependent on NGOs and aid groups. The Knights of Columbus alone has sent over $12 million for their aid.
That money has been “squeezed to get every ounce of efficacy out of it to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, provide shelter, and of course to provide medicines,” Smith said.
However, the money from the private sector is “not enough,” he insisted, saying that Archbishop Bashar Warda of the Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil has warned of “severe food shortages” if nothing is done.
Before Christmas, Smith toured the region around Erbil where many Christian families are living after they fled from the Islamic State.