Vice President Mike Pence addresses the In Defense of Christians’ fourth-annual national advocacy summit in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

For the life of me, I don’t know why it has taken decades of persecution for this to happen:

Vice President Mike Pence promised Christian leaders from the Middle East Wednesday night that their days of receiving little to no help from the United States government to rebuild their ancient communities “are over.”

While giving the keynote address at an annual solidarity dinner sponsored by the international advocacy organization In Defense of Christians, Pence announced that President Donald Trump has ordered the State Department to enable U.S. aid funding to go directly to faith-based organizations actively supporting Christians and other religious minorities displaced by the Islamic State.

“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,” he added. “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.”

Pence slammed the U.N. for too often failing “to help the most vulnerable communities” and leaving “countless people [to] continue to suffer and struggle needlessly.”

“Here is the sad reality,” Pence explained. “The United Nations claims that more than 160 projects are in Christian areas. But for a third of those projects, there are no Christians to help. The believers in Nineveh Iraq have had less than 2 percent of their housing needs addressed and the majority of Christians and Yazidis remain in shelters. Projects that are supposedly marked finished have little more than a U.N. flag hung outside an unusable building, in many cases a school.”

“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,” the vice president added. “My friends, those days are over.”

The UN agencies, in practice, seem largely hostile to Middle Eastern Christians and other religious minorities. One can only speculate at the reasons. But I’m afraid this is a contender in for a “too-little-too-late” award. The Christian communities were largely moribund or dying because the West has not applied diplomatic pressure against governments to protect them. Increasingly, “apostasy” gets you a death sentence, de jure or de facto, making marriage outside the group while retaining Christian identity impossible. Even in the most secular of Muslim nations in the region, Turkey, Christianity is punished.

While this is a worthy symbolic act and will hopefully have an impact on the State Department’s policy, established under Obama, of what seemed to be deliberately restricting Christian refugees in favor of Muslims. Because I’m afraid the clock has run out on these ancient communities.