One year after State Department designation, targets of ISIS need support.
The Knights of Columbus are providing $1.9 million in new assistance to Iraqi and Syrian Christians targeted by ISIS, marking the first anniversary of the March 17, 2016 declaration by the U.S. State Department that the persecution of Christians in that area is genocide.
The US declaration followed some six weeks after the European Parliament also recognized the ISIS crimes as genocide.
Karl Anderson, CEO of the Catholic men’s charitable organization, remarked on the “genocide” label with the affirmation that “words are not enough.”
“Those targeted for genocide continue to need our assistance, especially since many have received no funding from the U.S. government or from the United Nations. The new administration should rectify the policies it found in place, and stop the de facto discrimination that is continuing to endanger these communities targeted by ISIS for genocide,” he said in a statement.
The Knights of Columbus monetary donation will be used for:
- Medical clinics in Iraq
- Easter food baskets for displaced Christians under the care of the Archdiocese of Erbil
- General relief for the Christians of Aleppo, Syria, via the city’s Melkite Archdiocese
- Support for the Christian refugee relief programs of the Syriac Catholic patriarch
Last year, the Knights of Columbus headed a campaign urging the State Department declaration of genocide of Christians by ISIS and other extremist groups. The successful effort included a 278-page report on the genocide in Iraq and Syria. The State Department issued the declaration of genocide on March 17, 2016, only the second time the U.S. government has declared an ongoing situation to be genocide.
Anderson said 2017 may be “the decisive year in determining whether many Christian communities throughout the Middle East will continue to exist,” and called for aid from the U.S. government and the international community.
He also urged prayer for “those who are being persecuted and killed for their faith.”
Genocide is the “crime of crimes,” according to the United Nations, because it involves the intentional destruction, “in whole or in part,” of an entire people.
This week, Professor Robert Destro of the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America announced a joint statement of “recommended actions” for the administration to take to protect genocide survivors.
The document is a call “to stand up constantly” for minorities “who are being targeted today by ISIS and all of its affiliates around the world” and was signed by numerous political and religious leaders.
Since 2014, the Knights of Columbus have donated $12 million in aid to persecuted Christians in the Middle East.