USAID: $55M Going to Aid Ethnic, Religious Minorities in Iraq

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Image: USAID: $55M Going to Aid Ethnic, Religious Minorities in Iraq
Almas Shaya, a member of Michigan’s Chaldean community, who are Iraqi Catholics, prays during a rally in Detroit Nov. 8, 2010. The rally was to express anger and frustration over what they describe as a lack of protection for Christians in Iraq. (Paul Sancya/AP)
The Trump administration has reached a deal with the United Nation’s international development agency to provide more funding for ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq — and it was Vice President Mike Pence who galvanized the aid, Fox News reported.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said Monday that $55 million of a $75 million tranche of aid money to the UN Development Program’s Funding Facility for Stabilization will go to addressing minority groups in areas of northern Iraq retaken from ISIS.

The deal came more than two months after Pence announced that the United States would stop funding “ineffective” UN relief programs.

In an October speech at the In Defense of Christians annual Solidarity Dinner for Christians in the Middle East, Pence decried what he said was U.N. agencies’ collective failure to effectively assist religious minorities — particularly Christians — in Iraq.

“Those days are over,” he said at the time, The Hill reported.

“Our fellow Christians and all who are persecuted in the Middle East should not have to rely on multinational institutions when America can help them directly.”

Fox News reported Pence’s call for change and criticism of UN action sparked new action, including a five-day trip to the suffering region by USAID counselor Tom Staal, the agency’s highest ranking career foreign service officer.

The trip was followed by meetings at the White House and on Capitol Hill that added further to the aid package. Above and beyond the refocusing the $150 million, another $10 million to $10.5 million of emergency humanitarian assistance had been sent to the beleaguered communities, Fox News reported.

Beyond that, $10 million in State Department in discretionary funding aimed at such things as combating the effects of gender-based violence resulting from ISIS horrifying campaign of rape and kidnapping of sex slaves from the Christian and Yazidi populations, Fox News reported.

“We are very confident that not only will U.S. funds go more directly toward assisting persecuted religious minorities — the U.N. is also stepping up to the plate to further fund effective programs that directly go to communities — particularly in Iraq,” an unnamed White House official told Fox News.

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