LETTER: Let’s fast track help to persecuted people in the Middle East

To the editor:

In an age of ongoing political strife in our nation, it was heartening to see the unanimous passage of a bill in the House of Representatives recently. The bill is H.R. 390, The Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017.

H.R. 390 calls for much-needed assistance for survivors of the genocide that is taking place in Syria and Iraq as ISIS systematically targets and exterminates Christians. It would allow faith-based organizations that are already providing humanitarian assistance to these populations to access U.S. government funding in their work. In addition, the legislation seeks to hold the ISIS perpetrators accountable.

Over the years, faith-based organizations have consistently supported Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities facing persecution in the Middle East, many of whom are internally displaced or have fled as refugees. Pope Francis has denounced the persecution, torture and killing of Christians in the Middle East, calling it a “form of genocide.” He lamented the wider conflicts that have put so many in danger and has condemned the actions of those who persecute others solely for reasons of their faith and ethnicity.

The bill has now moved to the Senate where supporters hope it will receive fast-track consideration. Our senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis can influence the fast-tracking by urging senate leaders Mitch McConnell, Bob Corker and Ben Cardin to fast-track this legislation.

Our elected officials don’t seem to agree on much these days, but they do concur that action is needed to help the persecuted people of Syria and Iraq. Let’s get this done, fast.

Sheila Richardson

Wadesboro, NC