After many months of deliberations between the House of Representatives and the Senate, Congress this week put its final stamp of approval on legislation intended to aid victims of genocide in the Middle East. The bill now goes to the White House to be signed by the President.
Sponsored by Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act (H.R. 390) instructs the executive branch to aid organizations, particularly faith-based ministries, working to meet “humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery needs” of those persecuted. Moreover, among its provisions, the bill also calls for U.S. support for groups that are conducting criminal investigations or preserving relevant evidence against the perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
Before the House vote, Smith declared, “When genocide or other atrocity crimes are perpetrated, the United States should direct humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery aid to enable these people to survive – especially when they are minorities whose existence as a people is at-risk.”
Similarly, Eshoo stated:
Tens of thousands of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria were targeted for genocide by ISIS between 2014 and 2017. As survivors return to their homes and begin rebuilding their communities, the United States government must make it a priority to help families in need of assistance now, while ensuring the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity are held accountable. H.R. 390 will aid in these efforts and send a powerful message to these communities that we haven’t forgotten them.
More information about this bill is available from Rep. Smith’s office here.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations