(Washington, DC) â€“ Today the U.S. Congress completed action on the Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act, sending
the bill to the Presidentâ€™s desk for his signature. For the first time, the bill contained money and policy direction for
administering U.S. Government aid to address the suffering of the Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac people of Iraq.
Specifically, the bill includes the following language:
â€œThe Appropriations Committees support the use of prior year funds, as proposed by the House, to assist religious
minorities in the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq, and direct that prior to the obligation of funds, the Department of State
consult with ethno-religious minorities and locally-elected representatives to identify Iraq-based non-governmental
organizations to implement these programs.
The Appropriations Committees are concerned about the threat to the existence of Iraqâ€™s most vulnerable minorities,
particularly the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Christians, who are confronting ethno-religious cleansing in Iraq. The
Appropriations Committees expect the Department of State and USAID to designate a point person within the
Department to focus, coordinate, and improve U.S. Government efforts to provide for these minoritiesâ€™ humanitarian,
security, and development needs.â€
The language is a tremendous victory for the advocacy efforts of the newly formed Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council of
Jackie Bejan, the Executive Director of CASCA hailed the Congressional action, â€œThe struggles of our people in Iraq are finally
coming to light and Congress is stepping up to address the real challenges of the less recognized ethno-religious minorities in a
Martin Manna, another director from CASCA added, â€œBefore this year, we had very little luck in getting the needs of the
Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac people recognized, much less addressed. By coming together, we achieved a major milestone for our
Ms. Bejan added, â€œThere were several members of Congress who we worked with that understood the importance of making
progress on this critical issue. I want to especially thank Representatives Eshoo, Kirk, Wolf, and Knollenberg for their
leadership on this issue. I also want to recognize the openness and assistance of Representative Lowey and Senator Levin in
this endeavor. Without the assistance of every one of these thoughtful leaders we would not be able to have achieved this
CASCA was formed in 2007 to educate U.S. policymakers on the plight of Iraqâ€™s Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac Christian
minorities and to advocate for policies that will support stability, security, aid, and reconstruction relief within Iraq and
assistance and resettlement of the most vulnerable refugees of this fragile population outside Iraq. CASCA was formed from
the following 4 organizations: The Assyrian American National Federation, The Assyrian National Council of Illinois, The
Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, and The Chaldean Federation of America.
Iraqâ€™s true minorities are being driven from their homes and communities all across Iraq. Many have returned to their ancestral
homeland in Nineveh, and many more have fled the country. The violence, economic and social displacement that drove them
from their homes in Baghdad and other, once-integrated Iraqi cities has followed them to Nineveh. Today, violence permeates
their existence and threatens to erase the presence of these people of antiquity from their ancestral homeland in Iraq altogether.