Trump administration has recently reiterated its commitment to protection of religious minorities imperiled by the Islamic State in the Middle East. In this regard, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson clarified U.S. stance on the issue in the preamble of the annual report of the State Department relating to International Religious Freedom situation across the globe.
In the report issued on August 15, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated: “ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians and Shia Muslims in areas it controlled.” He further stated, “ ISIS is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups, and in some cases against Sunni Muslims, Kurds and other minorities.”
Moreover, Michael Kozak Ambassador of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, while addressing a news conference said that the report is used by U.S. government for decision-making. Kozak said that there are hopes for the future despite the fact that conditions still remain unchanged for many. “ISIS is being defeated,” Kozak said. “Since the defeat of ISIS in great chunks of Iraq, it means that religious minorities can return to their liberated towns and villages and the next challenge is to see that they have security and that their homes are rebuilt.”
In line with careful estimates over the past 15 years, the Christian population had shrunk from 1.4 million and 800,000 Christians to 250,000 Christians in Iraq today. “There is a growing consensus on the need to act, the genocidal acts of ISIS awakened the international community to the threats facing religious minorities,” Kozak said.
“In the areas liberated from ISIS, the preferred option is to return people to their traditional villages and areas because we don’t want to uproot communities that have been there for thousands of years and take them elsewhere, if we can help them with the security and other means that they need to be able to resume traditional role as the valued members of their own societies,” Michael Kozak stated.
Ever since the crisis escalated, the U.S. led international coalition founded in 2014 had been targeting ISIS hideouts in both Iraq and Syria. U.S. also responded by providing humanitarian assistance to the victims both in Iraq and Syria.