US Vice President Mike Pence is promising the US will bypass the United Nations and give aid directly to beleaguered Christian communities in Iraq, vowing the days of minimal support filtering down to persecuted believers 'are over'.
In a snub to the UN's humanitarian programme the US State Department will no longer fund their 'ineffective' relief efforts, the Vice President said, and will now funnel support straight to faith-based organisations after claims from religious leaders in the Middle East that bilateral aid failed to reach people on the ground.
'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,' the Vice President told the audience at lobby group In Defence of Christians' annual gala. 'And tonight, it is my privilege to announce that President Trump has ordered the State Department to stop funding ineffective relief efforts at the United Nations. And from this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through [the United States Aid Agency],' he said in his keynote address.
In a sign of increasing tensions between the White House and the UN, Pence attacked the international body for failing 'to help the most vulnerable communities' and leaving 'countless people [to] continue to suffer and struggle needlessly'.
The move will play to Donald Trump's evangelical base and Pence highlighted how previous President Barack Obama had spent more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid to the Middle East, but only sent the funding to various UN programs.
'Here is the sad reality. The United Nations claims that more than 160 projects are in Christian areas. But for a third of those projects, there are no Christians to help. The believers in Nineveh Iraq have had less than two per cent of their housing needs addressed and the majority of Christians and Yazidis remain in shelters. Projects that are supposedly marked finished have little more than a UN flag hung outside an unusable building, in many cases a school.
'While faith-based groups with proven track records and deep roots in these communities are more than willing to assist, the United Nations too often denies their funding requests,' he said. 'My friends, those days are over.'
He went on: 'We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups.'
He did not specify what UN programs or initiatives the US will no longer fund.
'The United States will work hand-in-hand from this day forward with faith-based groups and private organizations to help those who are persecuted,' he said.
Paiting a bleak picture of the situation for Christians in the Middle East, Pence stressed ISIS crimes amounted to genocide as he promised the US' full support.
'As we begin to see the tides of terror recede, I can assure you that President Trump is committed to help persecuted peoples reclaim their lands, return to their homes, rebuild their lives and replant the roots in their ancient place of birth,' he said.
Christian Today has contacted the United Nations and a spokesman declined to comment.