Institute on Religion and Democracy Press Release
November 17, 2015
Contact: Jeff Walton office: 202-682-4131, cell: 202-413-5639, e-mail: jwalton@TheIRD.org
“Why are so few of these refugees Christians, particularly given that they are among the most persecuted of groups in Syria?”
-Faith J. H. McDonnell, IRD Religious Liberty Program Director
Washington, DC—Christians and other religious minorities in Syria have been targeted for death, sexual slavery, displacement, cultural eradication and forced conversion by ISIS.
Many of these persecuted Christians hope to escape to the United States. They have been largely excluded, with the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration admitting to officials at The Barnabas Fund, a Christian relief agency, “There is no way that Christians will be supported because of their religious affiliation.”
According to data from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center for Fiscal Year 2015, resettled Syrian refugees were 97 percent Muslim. The Hudson Institute’s Nina Shea, in a November 2 article in National Review, showed that in the past five years 53 out of 2003 Syrian refugees accepted by the United States have been Christians (about 2.5 percent of the total). But about 10 percent of Syrians are Christians.
IRD Religious Liberty Program Director Faith J. H. McDonnell commented:
“The U.S. government’s response has been woefully inadequate — neither helping these minorities defend themselves and stay, nor providing them asylum to leave.
“Christians cannot go to U.N.-run refugee camps because there they face the same persecution and terror from which they fled. If they are not in the refugee camps they are not included in the application process for asylum. The State Department knows this, but continues to allow the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to select refugees for asylum with no regard to the endangered religious minorities.
“The blame is not just with the United Nations and the administration. U.S. organizations who resettle refuges are also to blame. This includes Christian groups that resist any focus on Christian victims of ISIS, and oppose actions by Congress to welcome not just economic migrants but also Christians and other religious minorities victimized by ISIS.
“Other religious minorities — such as Jews, Yazidis, Mandaeans, Shia Shabaks and Turkmen — are also being targeted, and also largely left out of refugee resettlement. Shea notes that only one Yazidi was resettled in the U.S. in the past five years of Syria’s civil war, even though thousands of Yazidi girls as young as 9 endure unspeakable horror and are often taken as sex slaves by ISIS.”
McDonnell’s full article can be found on The Stream here.