Washington D.C., Oct 23, 2018 / 11:00 am
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Oct. 5 a security resolution intended to protect religious minorities in northern Iraq.
“Much is at stake. Iraq and the region risk losing entire minority communities and, with them, the centuries-old healthy pluralism that played the quiet but essential role of holding people of diverse faiths together,” Fortenberry said in an Oct. 17 statement.
Assistance for Iraqi Christians, Yazidis, and other communities victimized by the Islamic State must be combined with a plan for local security to facilitate the safe return of these minorities to their homelands, the resolution says.
The Christian and Yazidi minorities of northern Iraq were decimated by the Islamic State in 2014. Iraq’s Christian community once numbered 1.5 million, but today less than 200,000 Christians remain.
Fortenberry called on the U.S. government to “develop a coordinated and implementable plan for a stabilization and security mission in the region,” which incorporates local security forces and police units with “regularized national military structures.”
“Re-securitization is necessary to ensure the success of our humanitarian support for restoring the once-rich tapestry of ethnic and religious diversity that existed in the region,” he continued.
The Nebraska congressman traveled to northern Iraq last summer with USAID Administrator Mark Green and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, on a trip evaluating how U.S. aid money is being applied through multilateral organizations, such as the U.N., and assessing the situation of Iraqi minorities on the ground.
“Without a new security apparatus,” economic aid “will not be sustainable,” Fortenberry told CNA after that trip.