Last year, in a nearly unprecedented event, the United States declared that Christians, Yezidis, Shi’a Muslims, and other religious and ethnic minorities are victims of ISIS genocide.
It was only the second time the State Department has used the label
to describe ongoing atrocities committed by a state or non-state actor.
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.
Marking the one-year anniversary of that declaration, the Knights of
Columbus are continuing their work to assist persecuted Christians in
the region by contributing nearly $2 million in new assistance.
In a statement announcing the new aid, the fraternal organization’s
CEO Carl Anderson said that “words are not enough” to protect Christians
and other targeted populations.
“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
Many others have also called on the Trump administration to do more
to help Christians and other minorities in the Middle East on the
anniversary of the declaration. 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 was 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.
The Knights of Columbus played a key role in lobbying for the
declaration of the Christian genocide last year, as they compiled and
presented a 278-page report to the State Department, documenting
evidence of Christian genocide at the hands of ISIS.
Since 2014, they have donated more than $12 million to aid Christians
in the Middle East, which has gone to 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, and support for the Christian refugee relief
programs of the Syriac Catholic patriarch.
Anderson said 2017 may be “the decisive year in determining whether
many Christian communities throughout the Middle East will continue to
exist,” and has called for aid from the U.S. government and the
Donations to support Christian refugees and other
religious minorities can be made at www.christiansatrisk.org