New Proposed Legislation Could Mean Relief For Persecuted Christians

Jan 13th, 2017 | By | Category: Featured, Legislative Updates

Christians persecutedOn January 10, 2017, Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA-18) reintroduced their bipartisan legislation that would provide emergency relief to survivors of genocide and ensure accountability for perpetrators.

The Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act (H.R. 390) is an enhanced version of the bill they introduced in the 114th Congress (H.R. 5961).

When asked about the bill, Smith said: “The reintroduction of this bill is timely because just last month I saw in Iraq the lack of humanitarian aid for Christian genocide survivors. These genocide survivors told me the United State and global community had abandoned them. They are at-rick from freezing winter temperatures and require emergency help.”

Rep Eshoo said: “Tens of thousands of Christian genocide survivors in Iraq and Syria need our help now and it is essential that emergency humanitarian aid for the survivors be provided… I thank Chairman Smith for his passionate leadership on this issue and I look forward to working with him and all my colleagues in Congress to quickly move this aid package and bring relief to those who continue to suffer.”

Babies of Iraqi Christian refugees fleeing the Islamic State need diapers – Please help!

According to Rep. Smith’s website:

The Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Mosul, Nicodemus Sharaf, who had to seek refuge in Erbil from ISIS, told Smith, “We are the last people to speak the Aramaic language. Without help, we are finished.”

The Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil invited Smith to Erbil and has been supporting more than 70,000 Christians who escaped ISIS – almost 1/3 of the 250,000 Christians remaining in Iraq – with food, shelter, and medical care. It also serves Yezidis and Muslims displaced by ISIS. The Archdiocese has had to rely entirely on donations from organizations like the Knights of Columbus and Aid to the Church in Need.

“Because the U.S. Government and United Nations have so far failed to support this life-saving work of the Archdiocese of Erbil, these Christian genocide survivors continue to hang on the edge between life and death, ” added Smith.

Among its key provisions, H.R. 390 directs the U.S. Administration to:

  • Support entities that are effectively serving genocide survivors in-country, including faith-based entities;
  • Support entities that are conducting criminal investigations into perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Iraq and Syria;
  • Create a “Priority Two” (“P-2”) designation that Christians and other genocide survivors from religious and ethnic minority communities are of “special humanitarian concern to the United States” and therefore able to access an overseas application interview for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program without needing a referral from the UN;
  • Vet P-2 refugee applicants like any other Iraqi or Syrian refugee applicant and not admit them to the U.S. unless they have cleared this vetting;
  • Assess and address the humanitarian vulnerabilities, needs, and triggers that might force survivors to flee their homes;
  • Identify warning signs of deadly violence and other forms of persecution against genocide survivors from vulnerable religious and ethnic minority communities, or against other members of these communities, in Iraq or Syria;
  • Identify gaps in U.S. law so that the American justice system can prosecute foreign perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes present in the U.S., as well as any Americans who commit such crimes;
  • Encourage foreign countries to add identifying information about suspected perpetrators of such crimes to their security databases and security screening.

 

 

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