UK Syrian Refugee Resettlement ‘Discriminates’ Against Christians Fleeing Islamic State

AP Photo/Hussein Malla
AP/Hussein Malla

UK and United Nations (UN) officials were accused of “shocking behaviour” after data revealed that Muslims have been prioritised over Christians fleeing Islamic State for asylum in Britain.

While Christians make up 10 per cent of the pre-war population of Syria, where Islamic State has targeted them for genocide, Home Office figures obtained by the Barnabas Fund found that just 64 out of 4,175 of the refugees resettled in Britain in the year to last October were Christian.

The charity, which helps persecuted Christians, criticised the UK for outsourcing its selection of refugees to the UN, after a Freedom of Information Request found that more than 95 per cent recommended by the international body for resettlement were Sunni Muslims  — who comprise 60 per cent of Syria’s population.

Of the 2,637 refugees recommended by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in 2015, there were only 43 Christians, 13 Yazidis, and one Shia Muslim.

The statistics for 2016 showed an even greater religious imbalance, with just 27 Christians, five Yazidis, and 13 Shia Muslims among the 7,499 refugees recommended for resettlement.

Martin Parsons, head of research at Barnabas Fund, said: “This is shocking behaviour by both UN and UK officials. In 2005 the UN formally adopted the responsibility of states to protect citizens from genocide and crimes against humanity.

“These statistics show that the UN has itself failed miserably and inexcusably in this respect.

“Christians and other minorities in the Middle East have been treated shamefully by the UN. And the UK government has abjectly outsourced its own responsibilities to the victims of genocide in spite of repeated representations.”

In a letter to The Times, the charity highlighted how only a tiny number of Christians have been resettled in other Western countries noting that just 125 of 15,479 Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. last year were Christian, and six out of 383 taken in by New Zealand.

“It should not be assumed that the threat to Christians has ended with the fall of Raqqa. Western governments need to take urgent action to address this issue,” states the letter, which was co-signed by figures including former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton.

Earlier this year, the Barnabas Fund challenged the BBC after it told viewers that U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim the refugee admissions policy of his predecessor, Barack Obama, favoured Muslims over Christians was “without any factual basis”.

Accusing the broadcaster of spreading “false news”, the charity said that the BBC’s assertion was “deeply irresponsible” and “potentially damaging to tens of thousands of Syrian Christian refugees”.

In October, Vice President Mike Pence pledged the U.S. would provide direct aid to Christians and other minorities facing genocide in the Middle East, bypassing the UN.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.