United States – Pence Pressure Prompts USAID to Appoint Liaison for Iraqi Christians

AL-Monitor | Oct. 1, 2018

USAID Administrator Mark Green has appointed Max Primorac as special representative for minority assistance programs to oversee the distribution of US aid for Iraqi Christians and Yazidis as they seek to rebuild their lives.

“To ensure help goes when and where it’s needed most, USAID has sent a special representative for minority assistance programs to work with churches directly on how to best focus our attention,” a White House official told Al-Monitor. The official also said the Donald Trump administration “has also dedicated $145 million to support persecuted religious communities rebuilding in Iraq.”

The White House official also said the Trump administration is prioritizing US “refugee admissions for those who face such extreme faith persecution that they can’t return to their home country.”

Republicans in Congress and minority rights advocates have long complained that the United States and the UN have not done enough to assist Iraqi Christians displaced by the genocidal rampage of the Islamic State (IS). But critics believe things are finally starting to turn around.

“Aid has been slowly trickling out,” said Nina Shea, a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute, who has pushed the Trump administration to do more to support Iraqi Christians. “USAID didn’t seriously tackle the problem until a month ago” when it appointed Primorac.

The US Consulate in Erbil tweeted out a picture of Primorac meeting with religious minority groups Sunday.

Despite its pro-Christian rhetoric, the Trump administration has only admitted 23 Christian refugees from the Middle East so far this year as it cracks down on migrant flows to the United States, according to the Evangelical Immigration Table, a pro-immigrant Christian coalition. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced earlier this month that the United States will lower the maximum number of refugees it accepts from 45,000 this year — an already historic low — to 30,000 next year.

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