Human rights advocates are vigorously applauding the Trump administration’s decision to stop sending aid to Iraqi Christians and Yazidis decimated by ISIS through the United Nations and to provide the help directly from now on.
On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence announced the shift in policy.
“Christians in the Middle East should not have to rely on multinational institutions when America can help them directly. 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.
“From this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID,” said Pence, referring to the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Virginia, was a leading human rights advocate in Congress for more than three decades. He is now a distinguished senior fellow at the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. He is very happy to see the Trump administration make this move.
“It’s a very good decision that the administration and President Trump and Vice President Pence have made,” said Wolf. “This may very well save Christianity in the cradle of Christendom. more biblical activity took place in Iraq than any other country of the world other than Israel.”
Wolf says relief efforts organized by the United Nations failed for a number of reasons.
“Many in the Christian communities say they were afraid to go in some of the UN-run camps,” he said. “Secondly, the aid was not getting to the Christian communities. Many of the Christian communities and Yazidi communities wanted to return to where they were from. Their towns were liberated but they were not getting any assistance through the UN.”
Wolf says Christians were fearful of entering UN camps because of the Sunni Muslim refugees there. Not knowing which families had relatives fighting alongside ISIS, the Christians were afraid the Sunnis in those camps would report them and put their lives in danger.
Now that ISIS has largely been rooted out of Iraq, Wolf says the displaced people are eager to return home. However, with the UN failing to provide aid, going home if almost impossible.
“They were concerned about security. They were also concerned that they were seeing the money funded to different groups but not to them. They couldn’t rebuild their water treatment plant, couldn’t rebuild their electrical grid, couldn’t restore some of their communal property,” said Wolf.
But while the removal of ISIS is a good thing, Wolf is very concerned about the Shia militias, called Hastashabi, that seem to be filling the vacuum.
“The Hastashabi are Iranian-backed, sometimes paid for by the Iranian government, Shia militias who are now filling in the gaps. We went to checkpoints where there were Shia militias who had taken over for the others,” said Wolf, who was in northern Iraq just two weeks ago.
He says the rise of Shia militias is greatly concerning given Iranian ambitions in the region.
“The Iranians want to create what they call a land crescent or a land bridge, so you’ll be able to drive from Tehran, through Iraq, through Syria, to a port on the Mediterranean, whereby they will be able to aid terrorist groups with guns and missiles and weapons,” said Wolf.
“So there are problems as you see ISIS defeated. There are some potential problems out there, particularly with regard to the militias,” said Wolf.