Human rights activists and Catholic groups are questioning why the State Department still appears reluctant to direct money Congress appropriated to assist Christians, Yazidis, and other persecuted religious minorities in Iraq but this week quickly dispatched $32 million to help a majority Muslim group fleeing violence in Burma.
The State Department on Thursday announced it would provide a humanitarian aid package worth nearly $32 million to the Rohingya, a persecuted minority group in Burma, most of whom are Muslim. More than 400,000 Rohingya have fled Burma, a majority Buddhist nation, for Bangladesh over the past month to escape wide-scale violence that the United Nations' top human rights official has labeled ethnic cleansing.
The aid package came the day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Burma, and urged the Burmese government and military to "address deeply troubling allegations of human rights abuses and violations."
Tillerson's quick efforts to help the Rohingya demonstrated the State Department's ability to quickly direct humanitarian aid to a threatened minority group. However, critics say the swift action stands in sharp contrast to State's foot-dragging when it comes to directing funds to Yazidis, Christians, and other religious minorities facing genocide in Iraq.