The United States government has agreed to a partnership with a leading Catholic humanitarian group that aims to help the administration facilitate the much needed aid and assistance to help persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East.
The U.S. Agency International Development has agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the nation’s leading Catholic fraternal organization, Knights of Columbus.
The goal of the agreement is to “facilitate partnerships to help communities in the Middle East recover from genocide and persecution” and connect the agency with local faith and community leaders to help deliver aid rapidly to persecuted Christian communities.
Under the agreement, the Knights will help USAID by sharing information and identifying projects and potential recipients of aid.
The Knights of Columbus have been one of the most active U.S.-based groups on the ground supporting the recovery effort for the beleaguered Christian community in the Nineveh Plains, which was decimated when IS gained control from 2014 to 2017. The Knights have already committed $20 million to recovery and humanitarian efforts in Iraq since 2014.
The agreement comes as the U.S. government continues to face criticism amid claims that the U.S. hasn’t provided aid to Iraq’s Christian community.
Even though over $200 million has been designated by USAID for planned and active assistance to support the recovery in Northern Iraq, the head of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church claimed recently that the U.S. hasn’t “done anything” to help Christians in the Middle East.
USAID responded by pushing back against any notion that the agency hasn’t provided aid to religious minorities in Iraq.
In a press release, USAID acknowledged that it could use the help of Knights of Columbus because “their deep experience promoting interfaith dialogue provides them with a reach and a voice in communities that often exceeds our own.”
“The importance of a trusted voice when assisting survivors of genocide cannot be overstated,” a USAID statement reads. “The Memorandum of Understanding will allow USAID and the Knights of Columbus to leverage U.S. government funding against the contributions of American philanthropists in a coordinated response to genocide and persecution. USAID and the Knights of Columbus will work together to identify populations in need and assist them, convene local actors, advance pluralism, and collaborate on efforts to prevent future atrocities.”
On Tuesday, USAID announced that it has doubled its total assistance to support persecuted ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq since July to over $239 million.
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Source: Christian Post