USA (MNN) — It’s a breakthrough move that barely made headlines. Members of the U.S. Congress voted unanimously last week to approve HR 390, a bill that activates support for Christians and Yazidis targeted by ISIS.
House Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey first introduced HR 390 back in 2016 after visiting persecuted Christians in Iraq. He put the bill forward again in 2017 with the help of Democratic cosponsor Rep. Anna Eshoo of California.
“Many Christian survivors of the ISIS genocide in Iraq and Syria had reported receiving no aid from the U.S. or the UN, relying completely upon aid from donations of non-governmental organizations like the Knights of Columbus and Aid to the Church in Need.”
“I’m very thankful for Representative Smith because he knows the needs of these folks,” Open Doors‘ David Curry says.
“We’re glad to see this step taken, but it does take too long when it seems so obvious that a great crime was committed against these minority groups.”
What is HR 390?
The Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act (HR 390) provides U.S. financial help to Christians and Yazidis who were persecuted by ISIS and are trying to rebuild their lives in Iraq and Syria. It’s also supposed to “provide accountability for perpetrators of these crimes.”
Curry says it took more than a year to get the bill to this point, and the work isn’t done yet.
“I don’t think it’s an easy road simply with the passage of HR 390, but I do think it’s an important step,” he states. “We know the [Trump] administration is behind helping these embattled communities – the Yazidis and Christians in Iraq and Syria – so I think it’s a great step forward.
“What the passage of HR 390 does is it speaks on behalf of the people from the Congress saying, ‘This is real. Let’s do something!’”
What happens now?
As explained here, HR 390 was given to President Trump on Thursday for review and consideration. If he signs it into law, funding can be allocated to organizations working on the ground with Christians and Yazidis.
Curry says it can’t come soon enough.
“We need to be rebuilding houses. We need to be securing the areas. In the Mosul and Nineveh valley, (agricultural) fields…have had mines put in them. Those need to be cleared. The water system has big pollution problems,” he expounds.
“The Western world doesn’t want an unending flow of refugees. Here we have Christians and Yazidis who want to stay in Iraq, they want to stay in Syria. The question is, how long do they have to wait?”
Pray Christians can safely return home to Iraq and Syria.
“We want to see an indigenous Christian community – that’s been there for ages and ages – to survive in Iraq and Syria, and then eventually thrive,” states Curry.
Header photo courtesy of Open Doors USA.