- Vice President Mike Pence unveiled the U.S. Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response program as part of an effort to help persecuted communities throughout the Middle East
- ISIS’ genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Muslims highlights the need for the program, according to Pence
- Pence also announced the International Religious Freedom Fund to aid religious groups fighting for freedom around the world
Vice President Mike Pence announced the creation of the U.S. Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response, effective Thursday, in response to genocide perpetrated by the Islamic State.
Pence unveiled the program during his Thursday address at the first ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, after addressing various religious and human rights abuses throughout the world and honoring those who survived to bring those persecutions to light. He focused in particular on the barbarism of ISIS and said that, while its caliphate has fallen, military victory against the group is only half the battle. (RELATED: Pence Warns Turkey, U.S. Will Impose Sanctions Unless Pastor Brunson Is Released)
Pence said the U.S. was not only committed to financially aiding religious communities in their efforts to rebuild and recover from ISIS’ brutality, but also to the cultivation and preservation of religious liberty in the Middle East.
“To that end, America is launching a new initiative that will not only deliver additional support to the most vulnerable communities, but we trust that it will also embolden civil society to help stop violence in the future,” Pence said. “It’s my privilege as vice president to announce today the United States of America will establish the genocide recovery and persecution response program effective today .”
Under the new program, the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and a network of American philanthropists and believers will partner with faith leaders to bring aid to persecuted communities. The program will start with Iraq and will work to deliver necessary aid directly to individuals and households who are “most in need of help.”
“America will help the victims of ISIS reclaim their lands, rebuild their lives, and replant their roots and their ancient homelands so that all religions can flourish once across the Middle East and the ancient world,” Pence said.
Pence highlighted ISIS’ targeting of the Yazidi people as a prime example of the need for such a program.
Pence asserted that while ISIS has overtly targeted Christians, Muslims and Druze, no group has suffered more cruelty at their hands than the Yazidis. He then relayed the testimony of Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman whose village was slaughtered by ISIS.
“Four years ago, the butchers of Isis entered her village and slaughtered more than 600 Yazidi men and boys, including six of Nadia’s brothers and step brothers. Then they stole Nadia away and all the young women, and subjugated them to the most degrading form of human slavery. Nadia was brutalized by Isis fighters during her captivity,” Pence said.
Nadia escaped when her captor left a door to her room unlocked and was subsequently smuggled to safety after a neighboring family hid her. Thousands of Yazidis still remain missing or under ISIS captivity, according to Pence.
“Nadia, I say we are honored by your presence,” he said. “We are inspired by your courage and the United States of America, I promise you will always called ISIS brutality what it truly is. It is genocide, plain and simple.”
Pence also announced the launch of a new funding program through which the U.S. will support faith groups who are persecuted around the world and fighting for their religious liberties. He said:
America will always stand for religious freedom and we will always speak out boldly, wherever and whenever it’s threatened. To that end as well, the United States is also launching a new initiative to leverage our resources together with other nations to support those who fight for religious freedom and suffer from religious persecution. Today, I’m also pleased as vice president to announce the United States will launch the new International Religious Freedom Fund.
He appealed to the nations represented at the ministerial to one day join the U.S. in the new fund, saying that their combined leadership could help ensure the preservation of religious liberty around the world.
“Together we will champion the cause of liberty as never before, and I believe that our combined leadership will make a difference for freedom of faith for generations to come,” Pence said. “We will never lose sight of the importance of religious freedom.”
Pence then invoked scripture, saying that faith in God, the presence of His spirit, and the commitment of the nations gathered at the ministerial would ensure the success of their cause.
“We’ve done it throughout our history and I know that as each one of us renew our commitment to proclaim liberty throughout all of our lands, freedom will prevail, for as the Bible tells us, ‘Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,'” he said. “So freedom always wins when faith in Him is held high.”
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