A Congressional Call for Direct Assistance to Persecuted Christians
It is with much enthusiasm that we have received news of a call from three members of Congress, two of whom sit on the Caucus for Religious Minorities in the Middle, for direct aid to the persecuted Christians of Iraq and Syria. We have been advocating this needed action for over a year, and we applaud Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), and Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), for their principled stand and call for direct military assistance for defense forces like the NPU. We encourage all supporters of RNNF to call their member of Congress and insist that they too support this call to action. Below is the announcement in full:
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEJune 17, 2015Contact:Drew Bowling(Fortenberry) 202-225-4806
Charles Stewart (Eshoo) 202-225-8104
Jordan Langdon (Denham) 202-225-4540
Fortenberry, Eshoo, Denham Call on White House to Direct Assistance to Persecuted Christians
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), and Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) issued the following statement after meeting with the White House National Security team to urge assistance to persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The lawmakers suggested a three-pillar approach that includes humanitarian aid, special refugee status in the U.S. for persecuted individuals and families who wish to leave, and direct military assistance for Christian self-defense forces in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“Christianity in the Middle East is shattered. ISIL’s genocidal campaign of religious cleansing has placed horrific pressure on the region’s ancient Christian communities and other faith minorities. Christians have a claim as much as anyone to live in their ancestral homelands. The United States can come to their aid by providing humanitarian assistance, special refugee status for victims, and empowering them to defend themselves.
“Victims of religious persecution are in desperate need of humanitarian aid in the face of extremist and violent acts from groups like ISIL. USAID partners have reached only 24 percent of displaced populations residing outside of camps with non-food humanitarian assistance. A countless number of victims are slipping through the cracks, and the United States must bolster this effort.
“Persecuted peoples who wish to leave should have access to a priority refugee status process with the State Department. The current multi-year wait period is simply too long for religious minorities under constant threat of death, torture and starvation.
“We were also pleased that Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes and staff for the National Security Council shared a desire for developing a pathway to grant certain local security forces—including Christian groups—a status similar to that of National Guard units, enabling them to provide better protective zones for their communities while supporting a national security mission.
“The stability and cultural identity of the Middle East depends in part on its vibrant mosaic of religious minorities. Christians in the region are longstanding pillars of civil society and essential allies in the efforts to promote pluralism and combat extremism. As ISIL works to exterminate the innocent and vulnerable members of this faith tradition, all people of good will should express concern for their protection—a cause that is essential to civilization itself.”
Fortenberry, Eshoo and Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) led passage of a bipartisan resolution (H. Res. 683) last year condemning the severe persecution that Christians and other ethnic and religious minority communities are suffering in Iraq. The resolution also called for an international humanitarian intervention to aid these innocent civilian groups.
Fortenberry is a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. He was recently appointed Co-Chair of the Caucus for Religious Minorities in the Middle East.
Eshoo Co-Founded and Co-Chairs the Caucus for Religious Minorities in the Middle East.