In light of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, Congressman Jeff Denham (R --Turlock), who is also co-chair of the Congressional Assyrian Caucus, met with the White House National Security team to urge that the U.S. to send aid to the persecuted Christians and other religious minorities.
Denham was joined by two other U.S. Representatives, Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) and Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), who collectively suggested providing three elements to those being persecuted abroad: humanitarian aid, special refugee status in the U.S. for persecuted individuals and families who wish to leave, and direct military assistance for Christian self-defense forces in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The three legislators released a joint statement that outlines the dire need for action:
“Victims of religious persecution are in desperate need of humanitarian aid in the face of extremist and violent acts from groups like ISIL,” said Denham and the other Representatives in a released statement. “USAID partners have reached only 24 percent of displaced populations residing outside of camps with non-food humanitarian assistance. A countless number of victims are slipping through the cracks, and the United States must bolster this effort."
Sam David, president of the Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock, responded to legislators action on behalf of the club, noting that the local Assyrian community feels great "excitement" at the prospect of the issue continuing to be at the forefront of legislators' concerns.
"We're all proud and grateful for the efforts by U.S. Representatives Jeff Denham, Jeff Fortenberr, and Anna G. Eshoo towards helping the Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. It's a true sign of great leadership to preserve the humanitarian rights of the minorities," said David.
In December the Assyrian American Civic Club participated in a coordinated effort with organizations and churches across the nation and around the world to get aid to the multitudes of people displaced by the onslaught of Islamic State militants. Called Cargo of Hope for Iraq, the operation sent boxes of winter clothing, blankets, bedding, and other gear to the Assyrian Aid Society in Iraq for disbursement among the numerous refugees seeking shelter in the mountains to the north, where temperatures frequently fall in the freezing range.