ROME: A senior American diplomat briefed the leader of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholics on US development aid after the cardinal accused the US of failing to help rebuild Christian villages devastated by Daesh.
Mark Green, administrator of the State Department’s USAID development agency, said he disagreed with Cardinal Luis Sako’s claims at a Vatican news conference on Tuesday that promised US aid for Iraq’s religious minorities had not materialized.
But Green said Sako’s complaints were “a reminder that it is not only important to execute and deliver results, it is (important) to be able to constantly stay in touch and make people aware of what we’re doing and involve them in guiding it.”
Green was in Rome to tell Vatican officials about on-the-ground results from US development assistance to Iraq’s religious minorities and about the near-doubling of aid to about $300 million since last year.
The funds are being used to help rebuild water and electricity systems, provide security for schools and other projects meant to help Christians and other religious minorities who fled during the conflict with Daesh’s return to Iraq and build a viable future.
Green declined to speculate why Sako seemed unaware of how the US aid was used.
He said he viewed their meeting, scheduled before the cardinal’s comments, as “an opportunity to show him some of the work that we’re doing, both directly in his constituency (and) throughout the region in northern Iraq.”
Sako had strongly criticized US policy in the region, suggesting the US invasion of Iraq, which gave way to years of instability that facilitated the birth of Daesh, was responsible for the exodus of Christians from communities that have existed since the time of Jesus.
Asked about US aid aimed at encouraging them to return, Sako said it had not materialized.
“There are promises, but the reality is that there’s been nothing up to now,” Sako said after a Vatican briefing Tuesday.