WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 14, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. federal government Commission on International Religious Freedom is urging a redoubling of efforts to protect Iraqi Christians, and requesting that the U.N. Security Council be used as a forum to address the situation of Christians and other minorities in Iraq.
Leading up to Wednesday’s U.N. Security Council meeting regarding Iraq, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a statement today.
The commission stated that the “recent upsurge in attacks against Christians” is a clear indication that “the country’s most vulnerable religious minorities remain in peril.”
They “face targeted violence, including murders and attacks on their places of worship and religious leaders, intimidation, and forced displacement; they also experience discrimination, marginalization, and neglect.”
“As a result, these ancient communities’ very existence in the country is now threatened,” the USCIRF statement warned. “The loss of the diversity and human capital these groups represent would be a terrible blow to Iraq’s future as a secure, stable, and pluralistic democracy.”
The commission “urged the U.S. government to redouble its efforts, and use the international forum as an opportunity, to address the grave situation facing that country’s Christians and other imperiled religious minorities.”
Before it’s too late
The USCIRF recommended three steps to aid Iraqi Christians and other minorities.
The members called on the U.S. government to “identify the places throughout Iraq where these targeted minorities worship, congregate, and live, and work with the Iraqi government to assess security needs and develop and implement a comprehensive and effective plan for dedicated Iraqi military protection of these sites and areas.”
They requested a periodic update for Congress on the progress of this process.
The commission further recommended working with the Iraqi government and minorities “to establish, fund, train, and deploy representative local police units to provide additional protection in areas where these communities are concentrated.”
And, the USCIRF urged ensuring that U.S. development assistance “prioritizes areas where these vulnerable communities are concentrated.”
Referring to a Dec. 4 plea for help from a group of 16 Iraqi Christian parties and organizations, the USCIRF urged both U.S. and Iraqi governments to “heed this call and work with these leaders, as well as the leaders of the other small endangered groups in Iraq, on implementing these and other measures to protect and assist these communities before it is too late.”
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