Vice President Mike Pence told Christian leaders from the Middle East gathered in the nation’s capital for the annual In Defense of Christians summit on Wednesday that President Donald Trump has directed the U.S. State Department to stop relying on the United Nations to provide humanitarian aid to persecuted religious minorities in the region.
“My friends, those days are over,” Pence said, adding that the Obama administration paid more than one billion dollars for humanitarian aid, with the majority of the funding funneled through the U.N.
“Yet the United Nations has too often failed to help the most vulnerable communities, especially religious minorities,” Pence said. “The result has been that countless people continue to suffer and struggle needlessly.”
Pence called it a “sad reality” that the main U.N. presence in terror-ridden places like Syria and Iraq is their flag posted on abandoned buildings in places where persecuted Christians are not even present.
“And while faith-based groups with proven track records and deep roots in these communities are more than willing to assist, the United Nations too often denies their funding requests,” Pence said.
“Our fellow Christians and all who are persecuted in the Middle East should not have to rely on multinational institutions when America can help them directly,” Pence said, announcing Trump’s order to the State Department to “stop funding ineffective relief efforts at the United Nations.”
“And from this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID,” Pence said.
“We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups,” Pence said. “The United States will work hand-in-hand from this day forward with faith-based groups and private organizations to help those who are persecuted for their faith.”
“This is the moment,” Pence said. “Now is the time. And America will support these people in their hour of need.”
Aside from making the well-received announcement about the U.N. and the U.S.’s humanitarian efforts going forward, Pence also said that he and the president understand the enemy that has to be defeated.
“Let me assure you tonight, President Trump and I see these crimes for what they are — vile acts of persecution animated by hatred for Christians and the Gospel of Christ,” Pence said. “And so too does this President know who and what has perpetrated these crimes, and he calls them by name — radical Islamic terrorists.”
“The practitioners of terror seek to stamp out all religions that are not their own, and believers of many backgrounds have suffered grievously at their hands — Yazidis, Druze, and even their fellow Muslims,” Pence said, adding that the exodus of Christians from the Middle East has not been seen on this scale since “the days of Moses.”
And he confirmed the Trump administration’s determination to defeat the terrorists in all their incarnations.
“The truth is radical Islamic terrorism is a hydra with many heads, but no matter what name they go by, or where they try to hide, our administration is fully resolved to destroy them root and branch,” Pence said.
“And nowhere is our resolve more evident than in the fight against the embodiment of evil in our time: ISIS,” Pence said.
Pence also announced that he will travel to the Middle East in December.
“And I promise you one of the messages that I will bring on the president’s behalf to leaders across the region is that now is the time to bring an end to the persecution of Christians and all religious minorities,” Pence said.
Pence concluded his remarks by citing scripture, specifically Hebrew 13:5-6 in the New Testament: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”