By Ashourina Slewo
According to Al Monitor, following pressure from Vice President Mike Pence, displaced Iraqi Christians now have their own liaison to the U.S. aid agency. Max Primorac has been appointed as the new representative “for minority assistance programs to oversee the distribution of US aid for Iraqi Christians and Yazidis as they seek to rebuild their lives,” reports Al Monitor.
Primorac was appointed by USAID Administrator Mark Green.
The appointment of Primorac comes after Chaldean Cardinal Luis Sako made claims that the U.S. had failed to provide the aid they had promised to help rebuild villages torn apart by the Islamic State, stating that while there had been promises of aid, he had failed to see any of it materialize.
According to the Associated Press, Green “said he disagreed with Cardinal Luis Sako’s claims at a Vatican news conference Tuesday that promised U.S. aid for Iraq’s religious minorities hadn’t materialized.”
While in Rome, Green also briefed the Vatican officials about “on-the-ground” results of the U.S.’s aid to religious minorities in Iraq and about the increase of aid to $300 million.
According to AP, these funds are being allocated to the rebuilding of electric and water systems, provide security for schools, and various other projects geared towards helping Christians and other religious minorities displaced by IS return to their homes in Iraq.
This aid will help bring the displaced individuals back to their villages where they can begin moving towards stabilization and normalcy. The restoration of the aforementioned basic services will provide the push towards that stabilization.
A White house official told Al Monitor that the appointment of Primorac as the special representative for minority assistance programs will help ensure that the allocated aid goes where it is needed the most.
According to Al Monitor, “’To ensure help goes when and where it’s needed most, USAID has sent a special representative for minority assistance programs to work with churches directly on how to best focus our attention,” a White House official told the publication.
Under the George W. Bush administration, Primorac oversaw a number of stabilization and reconstruction projects in Iraq. He has also served as president of the Institute for Stabilization and Transition. From there he left to become a senior adviser for the USAID’s Middle East Bureau. In August, Primorac became USAID’s envoy for Iraqi minority groups.
The official also told Al Monitor that the current administration is prioritizing the admission of refugees who face such extreme religious persecution that they cannot return to their home. Despite this prioritization, though, the current administration has only admitted a total of 23 Christian refugees from the Middle East, according to the pro-immigrant Christian coalition, the Evangelical Immigration Table.
This number comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in early October that the maximum number of refugees accepted into the country will once again decrease. In the coming year, only 30,000 refugees will be admitted into the country. This is 15,000 less than the already historically low allowance of 45,000.