Just before Independence Day, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback led a U.S. delegation to visit persecuted communities in northern Iraq. According to the State Department, the delegation was sent at the direction of Vice President Mike Pence, and it “reaffirmed the unwavering U.S. commitment to those oppressed communities, particularly Christians and Yezidis who were driven to near extinction and are still struggling to survive.”
Last fall, Vice President Pence faulted the United Nations for dropping the ball on foreign aid and announced that the U.S. would help victims of persecution and genocide directly. Pence had described the UN’s poor record in aiding Christians and other vulnerable religious minorities, and he criticized the UN’s refusal in many instances to partner with “faith-based groups with proven track records and deep roots in these communities.” “My friends,” the Vice President then said, “those days are over.”
The State Department reports that since that speech by the Vice President, “the United States has directed over $118 million to promote the safe return and reintegration of persecuted ethnic and religious communities to their ancestral homes in Iraq.”
USAID Administrator Green and Ambassador Brownback were joined by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), former Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), and senior staff from the Office of the Vice President in this important trip.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: July 13, 2018