“In response to the ISIS genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other religious and ethnic minorities, the House of Representatives unanimously passed (6th June) the bipartisan Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act to concretely help them in Iraq and Syria,” the rapporteur Rep. Chris Smith says.
Among other key provisions, the bill authorizes and directs the U.S. Administration to:
- Fund entities, including faith-based ones, that are effectively providing humanitarian aid on-the-ground to genocide survivors from religious and ethnic minorities;
- Assess and address the humanitarian vulnerabilities, needs, and triggers that might force these survivors to flee.
- Identify warning signs of deadly violence against religious and ethnic minority communities in Iraq or Syria that have been victims of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes;
- Support entities conducting criminal investigation into perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Iraq – including collecting and preserving evidence that links specific perpetrators to specific atrocity crimes and is usable in a range of courts; and
- Encourage foreign governments to add identifying information about suspected perpetrators to their security databases and security screening and to prosecute perpetrators.
The bill comes after former Sec. of State John Kerry declared last year that the Islamic State was committing genocide against Yazidis, Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.
“President Trump and Vice President Pence have strongly, publicly committed the Administration to providing relief to Christians, Yazidis and other genocide survivors, and ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice. H.R. 390 will help ensure that officials implement these commitments and is a blueprint for implementation,” added Smith.
“The Christian and Yazidi survivors of the ongoing genocide in Iraq and Syria have been crying out for help since the Islamic State’s barbarity was unleashed upon them, yet none of the U.S. humanitarian aid has reached them,” Maureen Ferguson, senior policy adviser with The Catholic Association, said in a statement. “This crucial bill would hold perpetrators of violence accountable and partner U.S. aid with organizations like the Knights of Columbus and Aid to the Church in Need, who have been on the ground providing basic sustenance for Christian, Yazidi, and Muslim refugees.”
Christian villages need $200 million (about 188 million euros) to facilitate their reconstruction in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain, according to the Pontifical Foundation ‘Aid to the Church in Need’. More than 12,000 houses have been vandalized by the cutthroats of ISIS in twelve Christian villages, including Qaraqosh, Batnaya, Bartella in the Nineveh Plain, where 669 of them have been set on fire and completely destroyed.
What will be done now by the European Union to concretely help Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria? Will the European Parliament imitate the U.S. bill?
“Europe is a credible partner. In Iraq there is a lot of anti-Americanism but there is not anti -Europeanism! Europe should step up its intense, credible and constructive cooperation. I think it’s Europe’s responsibility to help religious and ethnics minorities in Iraq!”, EU Special Envoy for Religious Freedom Jan Figel said to The European Post in an interview after he came back from his first official visit in Iraq.
The ball is now in Europe’s camp, which has the potential to successfully help the minorities but quick and immediate actions are needed otherwise the de-Christianisation and the extinction of Christians in Iraq and Syria could get closer and closer. Exactly what ISIS wanted.