U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green on International Religious Freedom Day

For Immediate Release

Saturday, October 27, 2018
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email: press@usaid.gov


On this International Religious Freedom Day, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reaffirms that freedom of worship, religious diversity, and respect for the dignity of all people, regardless of their faith, lie at the core of any nation that is citizen-centered and citizen-responsive. In too many regions of the world, religious liberty is under threat, as minority and other groups face persecution because of their beliefs. USAID is committed to the principles of pluralism, human dignity, and religious freedom.

Around the world, we work to build the strength of advocates from both faith-based and secular organizations to promote the protection of human rights, including religious freedom. Some of our largest investments in this area are in the Middle East, where the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) brutality threatened to wipe out a rich, historic pluralism in the Levant that stretches back over millennia. Yazidis, Christians, and other groups faced near-extinction. USAID is working in direct partnership with local, faith-based, and private organizations on the ground to help these communities. In total, the State Department and USAID have provided nearly $300 million to support these vulnerable populations and promote a more peaceful, pluralistic Iraq.

The threats to religious pluralism and liberty are not limited to one country or region. Earlier this year, I visited Bangladesh, where more than 728,000 Rohingya Muslims have sought refuge from ethnic cleansing and brutality in their native Burma since August 2017. I met with Rohingya families, and heard their harrowing stories of being forced from their homeland because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs. The United States continues to urge the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of the Rohingya to Burma, and we continue to provide vital relief for the Rohingya who are still in Burma, and the refugees in Bangladesh.

On International Religious Freedom Day, we pay tribute to the faith-based organizations that are working across the globe to deliver humanitarian assistance, restore communities, and defend the freedom to worship. USAID is proud to work with over 90 faith-based organizations around the world, and we intend to expand these partnerships. We will continue to offer assistance to those in need, and we reiterate our call for every country to respect the human rights and dignity of all people.

Last updated: October 27, 2018

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