The United States Agency for International Development has announced
it is investing $10 million into coalitions led by Catholic Relief
Services and Heartland Alliance to help rebuild Christian and other
minority communities in Iraq who suffered attempted genocide under the
“In Iraq, although the coalition has largely driven ISIS from the
battlefield, much of Northern Iraq now faces the daunting task of
repairing broken infrastructure and rebuilding a shattered social
fabric,” said USAID Administrator Mark Green as he announced the funding
at the Interaction Forum in Washington, D.C., June 14.
The announcement came one week after reports that Vice President Mike
Pence was “incensed” over the “bureaucratic delays” in delivering aid
promised to the Christian and Yazidi communities in Iraq.
The United States government will stop using “slow, ineffective and
wasteful United Nations programs and to instead distribute assistance
through USAID in order to provide faster and more direct aid to
Christian and Yazidi communities in Iraq,” according to the vice
president’s press secretary.
Pence has directed Green to travel to Baghdad and Erbil in the coming
weeks to “report back with an immediate comprehensive assessment
addressing any issues that could delay the process of aid distribution.”
Kevin Hartigan, Catholic Relief Services’ regional director for Europe and the Middle East, told CNA
that “We are grateful for this new funding that provides greater
assistance for Christians and other religious minorities returning to
“It will allow Catholic Relief Services to continue and expand the
projects we began in 2014, working with Caritas Iraq to provide critical
assistance to Christians, Yazidis and many other Iraqis of various
faiths who had been displaced by violence and are now returning to their
homes,” he continued.
Since 2014, Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Iraq have served
more than 300,000 Iraqis affected by the conflict through their offices
in Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul, Dohuk, and Erbil.
CRS will use the most recent funds to “assist the Catholic Church of
Iraq to help all war-affected families with the provision of shelter,
emergency assistance and education and trauma healing for children,”
Iraq’s Christian population was devastated by the Islamic State in
2014. Two thirds of the approximately 1.5 million Christians who
formerly inhabited Iraq either fled or were forced out by the violence,
according to In Defence of Christians.
“ISIS fighters used most of the 45 churches in the old city for
shelter, target practice, and torture and, in the case of the Dominican
church, as a place to hang their victims from inside the bell tower,”
wrote Father Benedict Kiely after visiting Mosul last month.
Iraqi military forces regained control of Mosul from the Islamic
State in July 2017; yet only ten Christian families have returned to
Mosul’s old city, which had more than 3,000 Christian families in 2014,
according to Kiely.
“Across the Nineveh Plain, where Christians trace their roots back to
the time of the Apostles, many Christians have returned nonetheless,”
Archbishop Bashar Warda, the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil said
earlier this year that Christians are “scourged, wounded, but still