Christian churches, cemeteries targeted by ISIS now being rebuilt after fall of caliphate

The Trump Administration has committed more than $340 million to help Christians affected by the ISIS genocide in the Middle East. Now, different areas are starting to see churches and cemeteries restored after the terror group specifically sought their demolition.

Vice President Pence announced the Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response Program last year, partnering with non-profit groups, to help rebuild the communities that were targeted by ISIS.

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"We’re continuing to work with a strong range of nongovernmental organizations — NGOs, as they are known — including the great ministry of the Knights of Columbus," Pence said last week in an address at Ave Maria University. "We’re going to rebuild these communities. We’re going to work with our partners across the Nineveh Plain, Iraq, the Kurdish region of Iraq. And we’re going to see these communities come home."

Members of the STEP-IN medical team in Erbil, led by Dr. Zuzana Ulman (in white), unload medical supplies from the group’s van.

Members of the STEP-IN medical team in Erbil, led by Dr. Zuzana Ulman (in white), unload medical supplies from the group’s van. (Courtesy of the Knights of Columbus. Photo by Tamino Petelinsek)

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, whose congressional testimony was a key component in drafting "The Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act," which passed unanimously and was signed into law by President Trump in 2018, recently visited Iraq at the invitation of Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil as part of the partnership to provide aid for reconstructing a Catholic church and restoring Christian cemeteries in Nineveh.

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The Knights will also help with the reconstruction of the town of Karamles, restoring property rights, building Step-In clinics in Erbil and Dohuk for displaced Yazidis, creating aid for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Syria, and establishing a human rights and religious freedom observatory at the Catholic University in Erbil, to help create an alert system to prevent future genocides.

“Those we met with made clear that Knights of Columbus support has been decisive in helping these communities survive,” said Anderson, who met with senior Church leaders and U.S. and Kurdish government officials. “More help is on the way, as we remain committed to ensuring that ISIS and its ideology do not eliminate Christians and religious minorities from this region.”

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson hands out rosaries, which were given to him by Pope Francis to personally deliver to Christians in Erbil.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson hands out rosaries, which were given to him by Pope Francis to personally deliver to Christians in Erbil. (Courtesy of the Knights of Columbus. Photo by Tamino Petelinsek)

The Knights said they will provide an additional $3 million in direct funding for humanitarian programs in Iraq, with an additional $2.5 million in co-funding will be supplied by government partners for a total of $5.5 million. The Knight of Columbus has donated more than $20 million since 2014 on behalf of persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

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The support has funded rebuilding – and saving – the town of Karamles, after its liberation from ISIS; feeding tens thousands of displaced people; providing short-term and long-term housing for the displaced; supporting educational and medical programs for those targeted by ISIS, etc.