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June 7th, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C— On June 6th, legislation sponsored by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Congressman Chris Smith’s (R-NJ) to provide emergency relief to victims of the ISIS genocide in Iraq and Syria passed the House of Representatives. H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act requires the U.S. government to direct humanitarian aid to entities assisting displaced religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria targeted for genocide by ISIS. The legislation also includes important provisions that will help the international community document the crimes against humanity that have been committed by ISIS, hold the perpetrators accountable, and ensure we learn from the horrors we have witnessed over the last six years so that we can one day prevent another genocide from occurring.
“Tens of thousands of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria continue to face persecution at the hands of ISIS and they need our help now. H.R. 390 will provide urgently needed humanitarian relief to the survivors of what both the Congress and the State Department have labeled as genocide and ensure we hold the perpetrators of these crimes accountable,” Congresswoman Eshoo said.
“I thank Chairman Smith for his passionate leadership on this issue and I look forward to this aid package moving quickly through the Senate and to the President’s desk for his signature,” said Eshoo.
“On May 9, 2016, the House passed Jeff Fortenberry’s genocide resolution 393 to 0. A few days later, Secretary of State John Kerry declared ISIS atrocities to be a genocide,” said Congressman Smith, who recently witnessed the devastation first hand in a trip to a displaced persons camp in Erbil, Iraq. “Despite this, the existential threat to Christians, Yazidis and other minorities continues to this day.”
“Some of the fortunate ones have made it to relative safety in Erbil. While there I saw much joy, love and courage, despite the loss of family and friends to ISIS. They had hope. The children sang Christmas carols with smiles and reverence—but astonishingly—last year—or any year—they have not gotten any assistance from the United States,” said Smith.
Christians have lived in Iraq since the 1st century and in 2002 the Christian population was 1.4 million. By 2013, due to sectarian violence and targeting of Christians, only 500,000 remained. By the end of 2015, less than 250,000 Christians remained in Iraq.
H.R. 390 is supported by various groups, including the Knights of Columbus, Family Research Council, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (Southern Baptist Convention), In Defense of Christians, 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, ADF International, Baylor University, Commission for International Justice and Accountability, Aid the Church in Need USA, Open Doors, Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Business Alliance, A Demand for Action, Yezidi Human Rights Organization International, Religious Freedom Institute, Center for Religious Freedom (Hudson Institute), Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Syrian Accountability Project, Genocide Watch, Civitas Maxima, Iraq Foundation, EPIC, Community of Sant’Egidio and International Christian Concern.
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