US makes deal to help Christians in Iraq

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In a deal brokered with the United Nations’ international development agency, the Trump administration has committed to provide more aid to ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq.

The United States will send $75 million to the U.N. Development Program’s Funding Facility for Stabilization, of which $55 million will be dedicated to assisting minority groups in areas of Northern Iraq that have been reclaimed from the Islamic State, USAID said Monday.

According to The Hill, the deal was agreed upon more than two months after Vice President Mike Pence announced that the U.S. would no longer fund “ineffective” U.N. relief programs in Iraq, and will provide more assistance directly through USAID and “faith-based groups.”

In July, the U.S pledged $150 million to the Iraqi stabilization fund, which will be divided into two installments of $75 million each — the second being contingent upon UNDP implementing improvements in the accountability and transparency of the fund.

USAID also said on Monday that it is proceeding with a Broad Agency Announcement, a mechanism that allows the agency to solicit proposals from outside groups addressing the best ways to facilitate the return of ethnic and religious minorities to areas of Iraq deemed liberated from the control of ISIS.

In an October speech at the In Defense of Christians annual Solidarity Dinner for Christians in the Middle East, Pence criticized U.N. agencies’ collective failure to effectively assist religious minorities in Iraq, particularly Christians.

“Those days are over,” Pence said. “Our fellow Christians and all who are persecuted in the Middle East should not have to rely on multinational institutions when America can help them directly.”

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