The United Nations insists critics of its predominant refugee agency, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), are “misinformed” when it comes to their questions over why the agency seems to resettle very few Christian refugee groups from the Middle East.
“The details of resettlement are so detailed and so precise that only a few people in Washington ever care about it,” said Jana Mason, a UNHCR senior advisor. “Now all of a sudden, everybody on the morning news, the evening news, cable news are talking about it. And because it is so complicated and so multistep, people get it wrong,”
“What’s caught us by surprise is that it’s being parsed in the public domain without all the detailed understanding being out there,” she added in an interview with The Hill.
The UN agency has been put on the defensive over concerns that only a handful of resettled refugees (just 62 of the 2,550 Syrian refugees resettled in the United States) have made it stateside, as the years-long civil war continues to rage.
When asked about the lack of Christian refugees being freed from the grip of sectarian turmoil, Mason responded, “We don’t know… We don’t want to speculate.”
But other UN employees have suggested that Christians have instead gone to Lebanon, which has a demographic makeup of around 40 percent Christians.
An Obama administration official, in defending the UN’s efforts, said that “a higher percentage of them support Assad and feel safer with him there.”
“The ones who want to come out, who choose to flee and feel they are in danger, those are the people we want to help,” said Anne Richard, an Assistant Secretary of State, before Capitol Hill last week.
Some Republican lawmakers did not buy the explanation delivered by the Obama administration and by the UN agency. In The Hill, several Republican Congressmen interviewed for the story expressed doubt that Christians were being helped equivalent to the Muslim refugees of the region.
And the data appears to support their concerns.
Since the Paris terror attacks on November 13, just one of the 383 Syrian refugees admitted to the United States is a Christian. Three-hundred seventy-four are Sunni Muslims, three said they are loyal to the Shiite sect of Islam, and five came into the country as unaffiliated Muslims. The lone Christian is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, according to State Department data.
The chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Dr. Robert George, has called for the U.S. to protect religious minorities in the region.
“Throughout the region, Christians and members of some other religious minority communities have been targeted by ISIL for persecution – and in some cases genocide – because of their faith,” he said in early December.