Vice President Mike Pence announced Wednesday night that President Trump has ordered the State Department to shut off funding for “ineffective” United Nations programs to help persecuted Christians in the Middle East, saying the administration will take over those efforts directly.
“From this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID,” Mr. Pence said at the In Defense of Christians annual solidarity dinner in Washington. “We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups.”
Saying Christians have been victims of a genocide at the hands of the Islamic State across the Middle East, Mr. Pence said the “sad reality” is that the U.N. spends about $1 billion per year on humanitarian aid in the region that doesn’t help Christians enough.
“While faith-based groups with proven track records and deep roots in these communities are more than willing to assist, the United Nations too often denies their funding requests,” Mr. Pence said. “My friends, those days are over. This is the moment. Now is the time. And America will support these people in their hour of need.”
The vice president said the U.S. will “stand with those who suffer for their faith because that’s what Americans have always done because the common bond of our humanity demands a strong response.”
“And so as a nation, we pledge to support them in these trying times, and every day — every day — I know the American people offer forth a chorus of prayers for these communities from our hearts to the heart of heaven,” he said.
Mr. Pence told faith leaders of various religious groups that the Obama administration “devoted well over a billion dollars in humanitarian aid to the Middle East, but routed the lion’s share through programs run by the United Nations.”
“Yet the United Nations has too often failed to help the most vulnerable communities, especially religious minorities,” he said. “The result has been that countless people continue to suffer and struggle needlessly.”
The vice president said the U.N. claims that more than 160 projects are in Christian areas, “but for a third of those projects, there are no Christians to help.”
Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, praised the administration’s move.
“The hope this announcement will give to Christians in the Middle East — and the real world impact it will have on the survival of threatened minority communities — cannot be underestimated,” Mr. Anderson said.