Running out of time

Although ISIS no longer retains control of much of its former territory, its victims still suffer from the aftermath.

The U.S. State Department twice declared ISIS responsible for genocide. Despite this, government bureaucrats still have not allocated a single dollar of federal money to support victims in the region. In the final appropriations bill at the end of the last fiscal year, Congress required the executive branch to fund assistance efforts.

 

(WNS)–Religious minorities in Iraq and Syria could become a distant memory soon if the United States doesn’t take significant steps to help them, advocates told Washington lawmakers this week.

Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities are victims of genocide at the hands of Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, according to the U.S. State Department. Although ISIS no longer retains control of much of its former territory, its victims still suffer from the aftermath. Thousands of displaced religious minorities have no home to return to.

“I am sad to say that if bold action is not taken by the end of the year, I believe a tipping point will be reached and we will see the end of Christianity in Iraq,” Frank Wolf, senior fellow at the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, told a congressional panel Tuesday. “In other words, ISIS will have been victorious in their genocidal rampage.”

The U.S. State Department twice declared ISIS responsible for genocide. Despite this, government bureaucrats still have not allocated a single dollar of federal money to support victims in the region. In the final appropriations bill at the end of the last fiscal year, Congress required the executive branch to fund assistance efforts.

“But career staff at the State Department and USAID have ignored the law and thwarted the will of the president, the Congress, and the people we represent,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., chairman of the House panel on Global Human Rights, said Tuesday. “These bureaucrats have refused to direct assistance to religious and ethnic minority communities, even to enable them to survive genocide.”

Smith worked with Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., to draft H.R. 390 in the House. The bill would cut some of the red tape at the State Department and direct millions of desperately needed aid dollars to the survivors who most need help.

H.R. 390 passed a voice vote in the House in June but remained dormant in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until it passed unanimously Sept. 19. The Senate still has not scheduled a full vote, and the money Congress appropriated last year has already expired.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the crisis Oct. 4. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., called H.R. 390 a strong bill and agreed they would like to see it passed. Rubio said he hoped supporters could work through red-tape delays.



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