Despite Congress approving assistance for persecuted Yazidi Christians in Iraq, human rights activists say the State Department appears reluctant to act. But it had no compunction about sending $32 million to help Muslims in Burma who are in the middle of a violent uprising, the Washington Free Beacon reports.
Last Thursday, the State Department said it would assist the Rohingya Muslims in Burma with emergency humanitarian aid; they are subject to persecution from the majority Buddhist population that has been described by the United Nations as ethnic cleansing. Just one day before, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson let the Burmese leadership know that the United States was aware of “deeply troubling allegations of human rights abuses and violations.”
Aid has reportedly not been quite so forthcoming for Iraq’s Christians, who have been targeted by ISIS. Even though Congress approved $1.4 billion in aid for the Yazidis, other Christian minorities and Shia Muslims, the persecuted peoples have seen little evidence of it, according to the general counsel of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Erbil, Iraq.
Though Stephen Rasche commends the State Department’s quick action in Burma, he says “little or no aid” has found its way to Iraq, and he said he is “deeply concerned.”
“We urge these government agencies to make good on President Trump’s promise and to immediately assist the Christian, Yazidi, and other religious minority victims of genocide in Iraq,” Rasche said.
The combination of ISIS killings and mass emigration has reduced Iraq’s Christian population from almost 1.5 million in 2002 to less than 250,000 persons today.
Some activists believe the congressional aid isn’t getting to its intended recipients because the U.N. acts as a humanitarian aid middle man and doesn’t send it to the right refugee camps.
“It is always good when people who are in danger are helped. But why is there a terrible disparity between our government’s treatment of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma and the absolute lack of help for Yazidis and Christians in Iraq, whom Secretary Tillerson declared last month to be victims of genocide?” asked Nina Shea, who is an international human rights lawyer directing the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom.
“In Iraq, we should be helping people who are victims of genocide, but our government is not,” she told The Washington Free Beacon. We should be caring for religious minorities. But our government is not. We should be concerned about religious freedom. But our government is not.”