Iraqis, who fled to Syria from Iraq due to Daesh, wait at the border in Kilis, Turkey on 14 December 2018 [Samer Owaid/Anadolu Agency]
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) pledged to give Iraq’s displaced ethnic and religious minorities financial support of $6.8 million, the body said on Saturday. US Vice President Mike Pence made the announcement which was confirmed by the organisation’s administrator Mark Green. The aid is intended to address and mitigate the victims of genocide perpetrated by Daesh, in particular in 2014 when the extremist group swept across swathes of northern Iraq, carrying out atrocities against the Yazidi community. USAID also explained that the award will be administered through the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Solidarity Fund Poland. READ: ‘They gave you a Nobel prize for what?’ Trump asks ex-Daesh sex slave It is understood that the CRS will be working in partnership with the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil, in the Kurdistan region to assist vulnerable families with their essential needs and to help facilitate their safe return home. Last year, Pence criticised USAID for being too slow and bureaucratic in its response to reaching those in need, in spite of efforts to bypass the “inadequate” UN through supporting efforts directly via USAID and faith-based charities. The initiative forms part of USAID’s Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response and compliments H.R.390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018, which takes into consideration the degree to which religious or ethnic identity contributes to one’s vulnerability. Speaking at the UN’s Session on Religious Freedom, Pence also stated that “Iran-backed militias terrorize Christians and Yazidis who were nearly wiped out by ISIS’s [Daesh’s] recent campaign of genocide” before condemning China’s record in its treatment of Christians and mass incarceration of over a million Uyghur Muslims.