الياس بجاني/قانون العراق وسوريا للإبادة الجماعية والمساءلة لعام 2018 .. والانتصارات الإلهية التي تسللت لبعض المنظمات الاغترابية اللبنانية في أميركا/نص القانون مرفق

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قانون العراق وسوريا للإبادة الجماعية والمساءلة لعام 2018 .. والانتصارات الإلهية التي تسللت لبعض المنظمات الاغترابية اللبنانية في أميركا

الياس بجاني/16 كانون الثاني/18

وقع الرئيس الأميركي قانوناً خاصاً لحماية المسيحيين من الإبادة في كل من العراق وسوريا لم يكن فيه أي ذكر لا للبنان ولا للمسيحيين في لبنان..!!

ولكن لأن ثقافة ومزاجية ومشهديات الانتصارات الإلهية هي تقليعة أي موضى في هذا الزمن المّحل والبؤس فقد تنطح البعض من ربع جماعات المنظمات اللبنانية الأميركية للإدعاء بأنهم كانوا وراء القانون وظهروا هؤلاء على شاشات بعض التلفزيونات اللبنانية متبجحين بما لم يكن لهم فيه أي جهد أو دور.

وفي نفس السياق نشر على بعض المواقع تقارير ومقالات عنترية تمجد وتشيد بالبعض الذي لا علاقة ولا صلة له بالقانون المذكور.

علماً أن القانون المذكور لا علاقة بلبنان ولا بالمسيحيين اللبنانيين ولا يأتي القانون على ذكر أي منهما لسبب بسيط وهو أن المسيحيين في لبنان لا يتعرضون للإبادة أقله حتى الآن.

إلا إن الأمر هذا التبجحي والتشاوفي الفارغ من أي محتوى وبرمته ليس مستغرباً في ظل ثقافة الانتهازية والوصولية والأوهام والتغني بالانتصارات الإلهية التي تفتك بلبنان وبالكثير من عقول قادته وأصحاب شركات أحزابه التجارية والتعتير..

هذه الثقافة البالية والسرطانية هي ظاهرة لا تبشر بالخير بالمرة كما أن محاولات نقلها إلى عالم الاغتراب هو عمل خطير للغاية وذلك بهدف تعميم النفاق والكذب وزرع عاهات الأوهام المرّضية.

Trump signs bill to help religious minorities in Iraq, Syria
December 11/2018
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed legislation on Tuesday to help ensure humanitarian relief reaches the members of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria who have been targeted for genocide by Islamic State militants.
“In recent years, IS has committed horrifying atrocities against religious and ethnic minorities in Syria and Iraq, including Christians, Yazidis, Shia and other groups,” Trump said.
He said the bill directs U.S. assistance toward persecuted communities, including through faith-based programs. It also allows government agencies to help groups that are investigating and prosecuting IS’ “despicable acts.”
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., introduced the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act. He said the measure also urges foreign governments to help apprehend IS perpetrators by adding identifying information on suspects to their national security databases.
“The future of endangered religious and ethnic minorities targeted by IS for genocide, and pluralism in the Middle East, will depend on help from the United States.” Smith said.

قانون العراق وسوريا للإبادة الجماعية والمساءلة لعام 2018

Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018

Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018
To read the full text of the Bill click on the link below
https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/390/text
(Sec. 4) This bill states that is U.S. policy to ensure that humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery assistance for nationals and residents of Iraq or Syria, and of communities from those countries, is directed toward ethnic and minority individuals and communities with the greatest need, including those individuals and communities that are at risk of persecution or war crimes.

(Sec. 5) The Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development may provide assistance, including financial and technical assistance, to support the efforts of entities, including nongovernmental organizations with expertise in international criminal investigations and law, to address crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes in Iraq since January 2014 by:

conducting criminal investigations,
developing indigenous investigative and judicial skills to adjudicate cases consistent with due process and respect for the rule of law, and
collecting and preserving evidence for use in prosecutions.
The State Department shall encourage foreign governments to identify and prosecute individuals who are suspected of committing such crimes, including members of foreign terrorist organizations operating in Iraq or Syria.

(Sec. 6) The State Department shall identify:

threats of persecution, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes against members of Iraqi or Syrian religious or ethnic groups that are minorities in Iraq or in Syria with respect to whom the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has committed such crimes in Iraq or Syria since January 2014 or who are members of other persecuted religious or ethnic groups;
persecuted religious and ethnic minority groups in Iraq or Syria that are at risk of forced migration and the primary reasons for such risk;
humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery needs of these individuals; and
entities, including faith-based entities, that are providing such assistance and the extent of U.S. assistance to or through such entities.
(Sec. 7) The State Department shall provide Congress with:

a description of the efforts taken and proposed to implement this bill; and
an assessment of the feasibility and advisability of prosecuting individuals for acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes in Iraq since January 2014 or in Syria since March 2011.

Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018
At THE SECOND SESSION
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Wednesday,
the third day of January, two thousand and eighteen

To provide relief for victims of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes who are members of religious and ethnic minority groups in Iraq and Syria, for accountability for perpetrators of these crimes, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018”.

SEC. 2. Findings.

Congress finds the following:

(1) The Secretary of State of State declared on March 17, 2016, and on August 15, 2017, that Daesh (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS) is responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, and other atrocity crimes against religious and ethnic minority groups in Iraq and Syria, including Christians, Yezidis, and Shia, among other religious and ethnic groups.

(2) According to the Department of State’s annual reports on international religious freedom—

(A) the number of Christians living in Iraq has dropped from an estimated 800,000 to 1,400,000 in 2002 to fewer than 250,000 in 2017; and

(B) the number of Yezidis living in Iraq has fluctuated from 500,000 in 2013, to between 350,000 and 400,000 in 2016, and between 600,000 and 750,000 in 2017.

(3) The annual reports on international religious freedom further suggest that—

(A) Christian communities living in Syria, which had accounted for between 8 and 10 percent of Syria’s total population in 2010, are now “considerably” smaller as a result of the civil war, and

(B) there was a population of approximately 80,000 Yezidis before the commencement of the conflict in Syria.

(4) Local communities and entities have sought to mitigate the impact of violence directed against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria, including the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil (Kurdistan Region of Iraq), which has used predominantly private funds to provide assistance to internally displaced Christians, Yezidis, and Muslims throughout the greater Erbil region, while significant needs and diminishing resources have made it increasingly difficult to continue these efforts.

SEC. 3. Definitions.

In this Act:

(1) APPROPRIATE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES.—The term “appropriate congressional committees” means—

(A) the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate;

(B) the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate;

(C) the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate;

(D) the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate;

(E) the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate;

(F) the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives;

(G) the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives;

(H) the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives;

(I) the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives; and

(J) the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives.

(2) FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION.—The term “foreign terrorist organization” mean an organization designated by the Secretary of State as a foreign terrorist organization pursuant to section 219(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189(a)).

(3) HUMANITARIAN, STABILIZATION, AND RECOVERY NEEDS.—The term “humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery needs”, with respect to an individual, includes water, sanitation, hygiene, food security and nutrition, shelter and housing, reconstruction, medical, education, psychosocial needs, and other assistance to address basic human needs, including stabilization assistance (as defined by the Stabilization Assistance Review in “A Framework for Maximizing the Effectiveness of U.S. Government Efforts to Stabilize Conflict-Affected Areas, 2018).

(4) HYBRID COURT.—The term “hybrid court” means a court with a combination of domestic and international lawyers, judges, and personnel.

(5) INTERNATIONALIZED DOMESTIC COURT.—The term “internationalized domestic court” means a domestic court with the support of international advisers.

SEC. 4. Statement of policy.

It is the policy of the United States to ensure that assistance for humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery needs of individuals who are or were nationals and residents of Iraq or Syria, and of communities in and from those countries, is directed toward those individuals and communities with the greatest need, including those individuals from communities of religious and ethnic minorities, and communities of religious and ethnic minorities, that the Secretary of State declared were targeted for genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes, and have been identified as being at risk of persecution, forced migration, genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.

SEC. 5. Actions to promote accountability in Iraq for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

(a) Assistance.—The Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development are authorized to provide assistance, including financial and technical assistance, as necessary and appropriate, to support the efforts of entities, including nongovernmental organizations with expertise in international criminal investigations and law, to address genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes, and their constituent crimes by ISIS in Iraq by—

(1) conducting criminal investigations;

(2) developing indigenous investigative and judicial skills, including by partnering, directly mentoring, and providing necessary equipment and infrastructure to effectively adjudicating cases consistent with due process and respect for the rule of law; and

(3) collecting and preserving evidence and the chain of evidence, including for use in prosecutions in domestic courts, hybrid courts, and internationalized domestic courts, consistent with the activities described in subsection (b).

(b) Actions by foreign governments.—The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shall encourage governments of foreign countries—

(1) to include information in appropriate security databases and security screening procedures of such countries to identify suspected ISIS members for whom credible evidence exists of having committed genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes, and their constituent crimes, in Iraq; and

(2) to apprehend and prosecute such ISIS members for genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes, as appropriate.

(c) Consultation.—In carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary of State shall consult with and consider credible information from entities described in such subsection.

SEC. 6. Identification of and assistance to address humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery needs of certain persons in Iraq and Syria.

(a) Identification.—The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and Director of National Intelligence, shall seek to identify—

(1) threats of persecution and other early-warning indicators of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes against individuals who are or were nationals and residents of Iraq or Syria, are members of religious or ethnic minority groups in such countries, and against whom the Secretary of State has determined ISIS has committed genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes;

(2) the religious and ethnic minority groups in Iraq or Syria identified pursuant to paragraph (1) that are at risk of forced migration, within or across the borders of Iraq, Syria, or a country of first asylum, and the primary reasons for such risk;

(3) (A) the humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery needs of individuals described in paragraphs (1) and (2), including the assistance provided by the United States and by the United Nations, respectively—

(i) to address the humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery needs of such individuals; and

(ii) to mitigate the risks of forced migration of such individuals; and

(B) assistance provided through the Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization and Funding Facility for Expanded Stabilization; and

(4) to the extent practicable and appropriate—

(A) the entities, including faith-based entities, that are providing assistance to address the humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery needs of individuals described in paragraphs (1) and (2); and

(B) the extent to which the United States is providing assistance to or through the entities referred to in subparagraph (A).

(b) Additional consultation.—In carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary of State shall consult with, and consider credible information from—

(1) individuals described in paragraphs (1) and (2) of such subsection; and

(2) the entities described in paragraph (4)(A) of such subsection.

(c) Assistance.—The Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development are authorized to provide assistance, including financial and technical assistance as necessary and appropriate, to support the entities described in subsection (a)(4)(A).

SEC. 7. Report.

(a) Implementation report.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees that includes—

(1) a detailed description of the efforts taken, and efforts proposed to be taken, to implement the provisions of this Act;

(2) an assessment of—

(A) the feasibility and advisability of prosecuting ISIS members for whom credible evidence exists of having committed genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes in Iraq, including in domestic courts in Iraq, hybrid courts, and internationalized domestic courts; and

(B) the measures needed—

(i) to ensure effective criminal investigations of such individuals; and

(ii) to effectively collect and preserve evidence, and preserve the chain of evidence, for prosecution; and

(3) recommendations for legislative remedies and administrative actions to facilitate the implementation of this Act.

(b) Form.—The report required under subsection (a) shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may contain a classified annex, if necessary.

AMCD Applauds President Trump for Signing ME Minorities Protection Bill
December 15, 2018
Washington DC: The American Mideast Coalition for Democracy applauds President Trump for signing the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018. AMCD’s founding members have worked for over 30 years to help the suffering minorities in the Middle East.
“The systematic discrimination of religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East by ISIS, the Taliban and the Islamic Republic of Iran is an insult to the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of all members of the human family which will lead to a world-wide catastrophe if unchecked,” said AMCD co-chair Hossein Khorram.
Commenting on President Trump’s signing of the legislation, Dr Walid Phares, who launched the first coalition of Middle East Christians and other minorities in the United States back in September 1991 said, “This is a benchmark in the history of defending oppressed minorities.”
Phares, AMCD’s senior advisor, had been a pioneer in counter persecution advocacy and academic research while he lived in the Middle East prior to his emigration to America in 1990. Phares has also been a prolific writer on the subject, with books and articles appearing for over three decades. In his first testimony to the Senate in 1997, to then Senator Sam Brownback (now Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom), and later as an expert with Congress, Phares proposed a strong US policy towards minorities in the Middle East. He included the topic of religious persecution as a senior national security advisor to Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012 and four years later worked on similar policy suggestion as a foreign policy advisor to now President Donald Trump.
Continued Dr. Phares, “After over 30 years of hard work, overseas and in the US, to promote the rights and safety of these vulnerable communities in the Middle East and Africa, I am thrilled to see a US President signing this historic document after Congress had voted for several resolutions in the same direction, over the years.”
Phares, also a co-secretary general of the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group on Counter Terrorism (TAG) has led several NGOs delegations to the UN Security Council in 2014 and 2015 to introduce the idea of declaring the ethnic cleansing and massacres of Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria, as a genocide, a war crime and a crime against humanity, concepts adopted by the Council later.
“Now we need to develop a policy of resettlement of the refugees back to their towns and villages and provide protection for them. That would be a fulfillment of their aspirations,” said Phares.
“The American Christian community has been slow to awaken to the slow-motion obliteration of the ancient Christians of the Middle East,” said AMCD co-chair Tom Harb. “These communities trace their origins back to the First Century and have kept the language of Jesus Christ (Aramaic) alive in their liturgies.”
“We simply cannot allow Christianity to be snuffed out in the land of its birth,” added AMCD co-chair John Hajjar. “This bill throws Christians in the Middle East a much needed life-line.”
Bravo, President Trump!

USCIRF Welcomes President Trump Signing the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act
WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today welcomed President Donald Trump signing H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act. This bill promotes accountability for crimes committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and provides for the urgent needs of persecuted religious and ethnic communities such as Christians and Yazidis. USCIRF has recommended that the Congress pass this bill since June 2017.
“I commend President Trump for signing this important bill providing relief and assistance to communities who desperately need our help,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga, who attended the White House luncheon Vice President Pence hosted in honor of victims of religious persecution. “Through this bill we send the message that those responsible for these crimes, including genocide, will not escape justice. I also commend Representatives Chris Smith and Anna Eshoo for their commitment and hard work to craft this legislation and help ensure its passage.”
Present at the White House Oval Office signing ceremony were USCIRF Commissioner Tony Perkins and former Commissioners Elizabeth Prodromou and Nina Shea, who worked jointly and in a bipartisan way on the passage of the legislation.
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The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or Kellie Boyle at kboyle@uscirf.gov or +1-703-898-6554.

U.S. Bishops’ Chairman Applauds Enactment of Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act
December 11, 2018
WASHINGTON—Today, after more than two years of hard work and bipartisan cooperation in the US Congress, the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) applauds the enactment of the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act (H.R. 390).
This critical legislation will direct humanitarian relief to genocide victims in Iraq and Syria and hold ISIS perpetrators accountable.
“Today is a signal of hope for the critically vulnerable of this region. We thank Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), the bill’s author, and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), its lead cosponsor, and President Donald Trump for signing it into law,” says Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services USA and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.
“Less than 200,000 Christians remain in Iraq, down from 1.4 million in 2002 and 500,000 in 2013, before ISIS swept through the region on its genocidal campaign. Many of the remaining Christians in Iraq are displaced, mostly in Erbil in the Kurdistan region, and need desperate assistance to return to their homes and stay in Iraq. After the ISIS invasion, 60,000 Yazidis fled to Europe, and of the 550,000 Yazidis still in Iraq, 280,000 remain displaced and only 20 percent have been able to return to their historic homeland of Sinjar, according to the Yazdi organization Yazda.
The Catholic Church has consistently raised its voice in support of the most vulnerable who are facing persecution and displacement in the Middle East and around the world. Pope Francis has denounced the persecution, torture and killing of Christians in the Middle East, calling it a “form of genocide” that must end, and lamenting the wider conflicts that have put so many in danger. USCCB has joined with Pope Francis in condemning the actions of those who would persecute others solely for reasons of their faith and ethnicity.”

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., President Donald J. Trump, Chris Smith (R-NJ), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Committee on International Justice and Peace, genocide, Iraq, Syria, Christians, ISIS, Erbil, Yazidis, persecution, displacement, conflict, fait, ethnicity, humanitarian relief
Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

Victory for Victims’: Trump Signs Genocide Relief Act for Iraqi and Syrian Christians
Peter Jesserer Smith/National Vatholic Register/December 13/18

The Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act is hailed as a vital piece in keeping the Christian presence alive in ancestral homelands.
WASHINGTON — Just one day after Iraq celebrated the anniversary of its total victory over the Islamic State terrorist army, President Donald Trump signed into law a new bill designed to provide dedicated U.S. support directly to the Christian and Yazidi victims of ISIS’ campaign of genocide.
“The law in itself is an achievement,” Archbishop Bashar Warda of the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Erbil told the Register, saying it was “a victory for the victims and a recognition of the painful road they walked.”
Faith leaders and representatives of the indigenous Iraqi communities targeted for extinction gathered around President Trump in the White House Oval Office as he signed the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act (H.R. 390) into law Dec. 11.
The president passed out replica signing pens to each representative, but gave the pen he personally used to sign the long-awaited legislation to Archbishop Warda himself. Afterward, the archbishop gave the president a blessing in Aramaic, “the language of Jesus,” and recited the Lord’s Prayer.
The bipartisan law, sponsored by Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., will authorize and direct the federal government to fund organizations, including faith-based groups, that are on the ground providing Christian, Yazidi and other survivors targeted by ISIS the resources they need to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
Carl Anderson, the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, attended the signing and told the Register the bipartisanship showed “the best that is America” and that the country was on the side of genocide victims.
“National strength is defending people who are defenseless,” Anderson said. “I think today really showed what is best about America, in a lot of ways.”
Liberation From ISIS
In 2014, ISIS had marched into Iraq from Syria, conquering a vast swath of land for its self-declared “caliphate.” The army inflicted vicious atrocities on non-Sunni peoples under its control, devastating the numerically small Christian and Yazidi communities. ISIS finally turned its reign of terror on the remaining Sunni Muslims.
Iraqi forces eventually liberated the Nineveh Plain and Mosul from ISIS, declaring victory over the so-called caliphate Dec. 10, 2017, and allowing Christians for the first time in four years to celebrate Christmas in the shattered city.
Since last year’s liberation of their ancestral homeland on the Nineveh Plain, Christians have been returning slowly. But without the infusion of serious capital, the destruction inflicted by ISIS across northern Iraq, along with other ethnic groups staking claims in their old villages due to their absence, has hindered the pace of their repatriation. The Nineveh Reconstruction Committee estimates the reconstruction will cost $250 million. (This estimate does not include Mosul, which was flattened by airstrikes and fierce house-to-house fighting to liberate the city.)
The population of Christians in Iraq is down significantly: Fewer than 200,000 Christians remain of the 500,000 estimated in Iraq before ISIS.
Archbishop Warda said there is no room for error: Christians need security and economic stability in order to have a future in Iraq, where they first received the Gospel nearly 2,000 years ago. The country needs reconciliation programs, he said, and Christians, with immediate support, can become “missionaries of reconciliation.”
Now that the U.S. has enshrined these commitments into law, the archbishop said what needs to follow is action.
“Any future minor problem will likely be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back,” he said. “We are among the oldest Christians on Earth, and we will disappear within 10 years if there is no change for us.”
Strengthening Support Networks
Until now, the survival of Iraq’s indigenous Christian communities has relied upon an extended international network of Catholic charitable organizations, such as Aid to the Church in Need and the Knights of Columbus, who raised funds from their supporters and worked with the local Christian churches to help genocide survivors.
Aid to the Church in Need raised $100 million and helped jump-start the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee coordinating the restoration of their communities.
In Karamles, Christians will celebrate the Nativity of the Lord in a beautiful new church, the Mar Addai Chaldean Catholic Church, thanks in large part to the Knights of Columbus. The Knights dedicated themselves to the rebuilding of the town’s churches and homes, in coordination with the Archdiocese of Erbil, ever since the region’s liberation from ISIS.
Anderson explained the legislation will also bring about important regulatory reform that will enable the U.S. government to work with “entities on the ground the locals trust, that understand the local situation, and have a proven record of getting aid to the people who need aid.”
He said the law will cut out “middlemen” that have proved ineffective in getting assistance to Christians and Yazidis. Previously, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) had preferred to work through the United Nations in providing support to refugees and internally displaced persons.
However, most Christians and Yazidis who fled ISIS avoided going into camps for the displaced over fears for their safety and did not register with the U.N. After ISIS was driven out, the U.N. still failed to provide the targeted assistance they needed to rebuild their presence before other ethnic groups moved into the void.
Rep. Smith told the Register that he resolved to write H.R. 390 after visiting Erbil in December 2016. During that visit he saw firsthand the desperate situation of the Christians who had been kept alive thanks to the local Church and international Catholic aid organizations.
“We met all these people whose lives had been saved by the Knights of Columbus, Caritas, and Aid to the Church in Need,” he said. “Without that, it was an unmitigated disaster.”
The next step will be appropriations amendments to fund the work, but Smith said federal agencies could draw from the billions in humanitarian aid available to get started. USAID Director Mark Green already made an on-site visit earlier in 2018 to assess for himself the need.
“Whatever the need is, this [law] is a major part of making sure that need is met,” Smith said.
Need Is Great
Edward Clancy, the director of outreach at Aid to the Church in Need (USA), told the Register that one of the main issues is the lack of infrastructure to make the villages habitable and economically viable again. They are still working on delivering the basics of 21st-century life: food, water, sanitation, electricity and mobile communications.
Clancy said the Yazidis have suffered enormously: Thousands of men and boys are buried in mass graves, and thousands of women and girls are traumatized as victims of sex slavery, he said. But one strength they have is their communities are still intact in Iraq. Christians are on the brink of extinction in Iraq, because nearly nine out of 10 Christians are no longer in their native lands.
Syria’s Christian population, Clancy said, has also suffered similar catastrophic losses, as Christians have fled the country’s violence.
Clancy said getting aid to Christians in Syria is difficult because the territory where they are safe, controlled by President Bashar Assad, is under U.S. sanctions.
Clancy hoped the bill would allow the federal government to work with entities to provide targeted aid to those communities in Syria. Otherwise, the sanctions put in place against President Assad could “do the work that Daesh did not complete.”
Preventing the Next Genocide
The new law also directs the federal government to evaluate and address the humanitarian conditions that might force survivors to flee their homelands entirely and identify the warning signs of deadly violence against the communities that have survived genocide in Iraq and Syria.
Archbishop Warda hopes the bill will make sure the history of the genocide is taught in schools, so that Iraqis will resolve never to allow these horrors to happen again.
“The history will be written by the victims this time,” he said.
The law also supports entities that will investigate, gather evidence and bring the perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Iraq to justice.
“The more we do this, the more it may have a chilling effect on others, because they know they will be hunted down,” Smith said.
The new law also marks a positive step toward repairing the devastation to indigenous Christians caused by years of violent strife in the region.
Anderson said the Knights will continue working with Christian communities on projects with private funding and also partner with USAID on various projects, sharing their experience working with churches.
“Our experience has been if you work with the local Church entities, they are very effective,” he said. “They are taking care of their people.”
With appropriate support, Archbishop Warda sees a continued future for Christians in Iraq. He made a pastoral visit to Telleskof, where one of his priests pointed to the young people at work as a sign of hope.
“They are full of energy. They would like to stay and rebuild their village.”
Peter Jesserer Smith is a Register staff writer