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Congressman Dan Donovan

Representing the 11th District of New York

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House Unanimously Passes Donovan Cosponsored Bill To Support Genocide Victims In Middle East

June 7, 2017
Press Release
Legislation helps re-build communities and support Christians and other religious minorities affected by ISIS violence in Iraq and Syria

Washington, DC—June 7, 2017….Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11), a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, voted to pass the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017, legislation he cosponsored to support religious minorities – including Christians and Yazidis – affected by ISIS’ acts of genocide in Iraq and Syria. The bill, which unanimously passed the House last night, provides vital assistance to genocide survivors and improves the system for investigating and prosecuting perpetrators who commit these atrocities.

Congressman Donovan said, “The persecution and slaughter of Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities is a stark reminder that not every nation shares the ability to worship freely.  We have a moral obligation to protect and support those targeted by genocide, and this bill will help ensure that Christians and minority groups in the Middle East have the resources they need to protect and rebuild their communities, as well as bring their aggressors to justice.”

The legislation directs the State Department and USAID to identify and provide humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery assistance to Iraqi and Syrian religious or ethnic minorities that have been subjected to ISIS genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes. Additionally, the bill seeks to improve investigations into, and prosecution of, perpetrators of genocide crimes by encouraging foreign governments to include identifying information in its security databases.

Last year, the United States declared ISIS atrocities against Christians, Yazidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East genocide. Reports show that ISIS has killed religious minorities by the thousands in an effort to intimidate and impose its radical ideology on the Middle East, which was highlighted by the recent terror attack against Coptic Christians in Egypt. The State Department estimates that in Iraq, at least 250,000 Christians remain, down from an estimated 1.4 million in 2002, and 500,000 in 2013.

Supporting this legislation is part of Donovan’s continued focus on protecting vulnerable populations persecuted by ISIS. Last year, Donovan introduced legislation that would allow the U.S. to use funds seized from ISIL to help reconstruct Middle East communities affected by the terror organization. Additionally, Donovan supported and helped pass a resolution in the House declaring ISIS atrocities against Christians and other religious minorities genocide. 

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