A month after a meeting between Noeh, a boy from Iraq who fled his home to escape Islamic State (IS), and Mike Pence, the Vice President of the USA., it has been announced that ethnic and religious minorities in northern Iraq are set to receive assistance worth US $55 million from the UN’s international development agency (UNDP), funded by the US government.
USAID, the development agency of the US government, said the money would be used to help minorities living in parts of Iraq that have been retaken from IS.
The Open Doors team took Noeh to meet with Mike Pence in December, when Noeh was in New York with his father to present the Hope for the Middle East petition to the UN. Noeh shared his story of being forced to flee his home with his family. When Noeh and his family returned to their home after IS were driven out, they found it had been completely burned out.
This announcement by USAID responds directly to one of the calls of the Hope for the Middle East campaign for flexible funding mechanisms. Churches and faith-based organisations are on the front-line of the crisis in Iraq, providing aid and services to thousands of needy people. Yet they often struggle to access international aid, as the funding pots are too big and the processes too complicated. It needs to be more flexible so that those who really need it are able to access it.
Zoe Smith, Head of Advocacy for Open Doors UK and Ireland, says, “We welcome this announcement; the Open Doors team met with both the UNDP and the US administration and are encouraged by the steps we are seeing to ensure that development funds reach the frontline and communities most targeted by Islamic State. We will, however, continue to advocate that the US and the UN look for flexible ways to work directly with local faith communities and leaders in their efforts to rebuild, restore, and bring stability to the region."
- For provision for Christians who are returning to the Nineveh Plain and rebuilding their lives from scratch
- That churches and other faith-based organisations that are supporting these families will be able to access the available funds.