Columns

Frank Wolf: Most Christians and Yazidis in Iraq ‘Don't Want to be Refugees’

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) leaves a House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Jan. 8, 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON – Former Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said that “none” of the United Nations aid money is going to help Christians and Yazidis in Iraq who want to stay inside their country instead of entering the U.S. as refugees.

Wolf was asked if he thinks President Trump made the right call reducing the number of refugees coming into U.S.

“I just got back from Iraq, well, it’s been about a month and a half, all of the Christian community and the Yazidi community that we met with; the Christian community in Iraq has gone from one and a half million down to 250,000. They don’t want to leave, so they wonder, ‘Does anyone care about us?’ They love their country; you know, more biblical activity took place in Iraq than any other country in the world other than Israel,” Wolf told PJM during an interview at the recent Values Voter Summit in Washington.

“What they’re asking for is, why won’t the United States and why won’t UN and why won’t the western governments help us stay? So they don’t even get into a whole issue of refugees; they don’t want to be refugees. What they want is our support,” he added. “Most of our money aiding them, particularly during the previous administration, was going through the UN, and Christians and Yazidis won’t go into the UN camps because they are afraid.”

Wolf, distinguished senior fellow of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, continued, “I don’t think you get into the whole issue the refugees; they don’t want to become refugees. They want to stay; in fact, I heard a Catholic priest say, ‘Help us stay.’”

The 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative’s mission is to “create a world where religious freedom is recognized by nations across the globe as a fundamental human right.” The organization aims to “defend the vulnerable and victimized, and to champion religious freedom and respect for the equal human dignity of persons of every faith.”

The Yazidis are an ancient monotheistic ethno-religious minority primarily located in northern Iraq. Wolf said the Christian and Yazidi communities fear the threat posed by ISIS but prefer to stay inside Iraq rather than come to the U.S. Wolf explained that ISIS has been “pretty much defeated” in most parts of Iraq.

“They want the United States to help them go back to their villages. All of the money that we give to the UN are all going to aid Sunni areas which is what’s the purpose, but none of the money is going to aid Christians and the Yazidis,” he said.

Wolf said there are 3,000 Yazidi girls still being held by ISIS.

“Even when they get out they want to stay. They don’t want to go to the United States. Now, eventually if ISIS comes back and there’s Sunni terrorism and the Iranian militia then I think they’re going to find one or more wanting to leave, but this is an opportunity for the United States to help those people who want to stay,” he said.

Wolf also said many Syrian refugees want to go back into the country at this time instead of leaving for the U.S.

“Well, a lot of them don’t want to come here; a lot of them are hanging out on the border. They want to come back in,” he said.

Wolf was asked if he approves of the overall foreign policy performance of the Trump administration.

“I think he has done relatively well so far. I think Tillerson does a good job and I think with Mattis you have as good of a guy you’re ever going to want to get, with General Dunford, with Kelly. The previous administration, I don’t want to get criticized but Nigeria, I mean, they wouldn’t even designate Boko Haram as a terrorist group. Remember when Hillary Clinton refused it?” he said. “So the previous administration on human rights and on religious freedom really didn’t have the greatest, the greatest possible.”

Wolf, who served 17 terms in the House, provided his analysis of the state of affairs with North Korea.

“I’m not in office and I’m not getting the briefings, but the failure on North Korea was by previous administrations, the last one, even the Bush administration, the Clinton administration and they let this guy get to the point that he is. I don’t know, it’s a very difficult issue; I’d rely on people like Tillerson and Mattis,” he said.

Wolf was asked if going after Kim Jong-un personally and tweeting about him legitimizes him too much.

“He’s a mean, vicious guy who killed his own brother and has done a lot of bad things, and if you talk to North Koreans who escaped, what they’re doing, they’re going to China, I mean, the brutality taking place there and for him to get a nuclear weapon where he can hit Chicago or LA or Washington D.C.,” he replied. “But previously what the North Koreans were doing on cyber attacks with the potential takedown of the power grid, to destroy our banking system, so you just can’t let the guy just – I’ll have to see what General Mattis and them say.”