Mike Pence making sure Christian and Yazidi victims of ISIS receive US aid

REUTERS/Suhaib SalemAn Iraqi boy passes destroyed buildings in western Mosul, Iraq August 5, 2017.

Vice President Mike Pence has instructed the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to expedite aid to help rebuild Christian and Yazidi communities in Iraq.

According to Washington Free Beacon, Pence announced on Friday that he has sent USAID Administrator Mark Green to Iraq to ensure that federal funds reach the communities that were devastated by the Islamic State.

Last October, the Vice President said that the US will bypass the United Nations to provide humanitarian aid directly to the victims of ISIS.

The policy change came after several human rights groups complained that some religious minorities were not receiving enough aid from the UN and the international community.

In a statement on Friday, Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said that the Vice President has made it a priority to help rebuild the Christian and Yazidi communities in Iraq.

"President Trump and Vice President Pence made restoring the rights and property of Iraq's Christian and Yazidi communities, who were nearly wiped out by ISIS's genocidal campaign against them, a top and unceasing priority of this administration," Farah said, as reported by Washington Free Beacon.

"The Vice President will not tolerate bureaucratic delays in implementing the Administration's vision to deliver the assistance we promised to the people we pledged to help."

She said Green has been instructed to submit an "immediate comprehensive assessment addressing issues that could delay the process of aid distribution."

A statement issued by Green that same day said that "tens of millions" have already been delivered to the region, but he said that the "need is far greater," and more must be done to "meet the urge needs of the endangered populations."

Green said that he will comply with Pence's orders to travel to Iraq and come up with a "plan of action to accelerate aide to those in greatest need."

Pence vowed in October that humanitarian aid would soon reach persecuted communities in Iraq because President Donald Trump had instructed the State Department to "stop funding ineffective relief efforts at the United Nations."

However, a source familiar with the situation told the Washington Free Beacon that the Vice President was not pleased after learning about the lack of progress in providing aid to the religious minorities.

Catholic archbishops in Iraq have lamented that the plight of the country's Christian communities has gotten worse because other aid groups have supposedly decided to stop sending assistance after hearing of Pence's promise in October.

Robert McFarlane, who served as national security adviser under the Reagan administration, and Rep Chris Smith, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, complained about the delays in an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

The article claimed that USAID officials have rejected proposals from the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee and the Catholic University in Erbil, which operate humanitarian efforts in the Nineveh Plain.

USAID has reportedly approved a proposal from the International Organization for Migration, which is affiliated with the UN.

Smith and McFarlane warned that "the light of Iraqi Christianity could be permanently extinguished" in the region if USAID ignores the Trump administration's instructions to provide direct aid to the Christians and Yazidis.

"If Iraq's minority communities collapse, Iran will be ever freer to exert control over the region and consolidate a land bridge to Syria," Smith and McFarlane wrote.

 

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