The Catholic fraternal organization known as the Knights of Columbus is donating nearly $2 million to provide humanitarian support to persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria
Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson announced on Tuesday that the organization is donating $1.9 million to help Christians and other religious minority communities who were displaced by ISIS and the ongoing conflict in Syria.
Last year, the organization released a 300-page report highlighting the genocide faced by Christians in Iraq and Syria. It was also instrumental in pressuring the State Department to declare that ISIS has committed genocide against Christians.
The Knights of Columbus stated in a press release that the money would be used to fund programs such as medical clinics in Iraq, Easter food, Easter food baskets for displaced Christians, relief for the Christians of Aleppo, Syria, and support for Christian refugee relief programs of the Syriac Catholic patriarch.
"A year ago, our country declared with one voice that genocide was occurring to Christians and other religious minority communities, but words are not enough," Anderson said in a statement.
"Those targeted for genocide continue to need our assistance, especially since many have received no funding from the U.S. government or from the United Nations. The new administration should rectify the policies it found in place, and stop the de facto discrimination that is continuing to endanger these communities targeted by ISIS for genocide," he added.
Anderson has stated that 2017 may be "the decisive year in determining whether many Christian communities throughout the Middle East will continue to exist." He called on the U.S. government and the international community to provide more aid and urged prayer for those who are being persecuted for their faith.
The Knights of Columbus has also launched the "Novena of Grace and Solidarity," in which the Knights and others will recite a prayer for nine straight days. The prayer initiative began on March 12 and will continue until March 20.
Millions of dollars in foreign government aid has been sent to Iraq in recent years. However, some believe that very little of the money would actually help Christians and other religious minorities because the funds are funneled through the Iraqi government and not given directly to the organizations aiding the minorities.
The Knights of Columbus has contributed over $12 million in assistance funding to Christian refugee relief in the region since ISIS took over parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014. The organization also accepts online donations to its Christian Refugee Relief Fund.