UK government discriminates against Christian refugees from Syria
Whitehall officials attempt to block access to statistics which reveal how victims of genocide are neglected by UK and UN
The UK government and the UN are discriminating against Christians and other minorities in their refugee programmes according to new British Home Office statistics, seen by Barnabas Fund an aid agency which works for persecuted Christians.
Last week the government finally released figures proving that the UN has only recommended tiny token numbers of Syrian Christians, Yazidis and other minorities for resettlement in the UK. The overwhelming majority of refugees recommended by the UN have been Sunni Muslims who form the majority in Syria. But Christians, and other minorities have been repeatedly targeted by Islamist groups such as IS.
The new statistics obtained in a Freedom of Information Request to the Home Office by Barnabas Fund, of the religious background of Syrian asylum seekers recommended by the UNHCR for resettlement in the UK revealed:
- In 2015 out of 2,637 refugees there were only 43 Christians, just 13 Yazidis and only one Shia Muslim.
- In 2016 the statistics were even worse. Out of 7,499 refugees there were only 27 Christians, five Yazidis and 13, Shia Muslims.
It is widely accepted that Christians made up 10 per cent of Syria’s pre-war population and Shias around 1.5 per cent while there are estimated to have been 70,000 Yazidis in Syria.
Disturbingly, UK officials tried to prevent the release of this information. Barnabas Fund submitted a freedom of Information request to the UK Home Office in February. And in spite of being legally required to release it within 28 days, officials failed to do so and repeatedly stalled or simply did not answer correspondence. Eventually, Barnabas Fund lodged a formal complaint with the Information Commissioner’s office. On 19 September the Information Commissioner issued a formal notice requiring the Home Office to release this information within 35 calendar days or face contempt of court proceedings. Even then, the information was only released at the very last minute after Barnabas Fund had contacted the immigration minister’s office, alerting him to the situation and asking him personally to ensure civil servants complied with the order.
“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,” said Martin Parsons, Head of Research at Barnabas Fund.
“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,” he added.
Barnabas Fund obtained these figures just as US Vice President Mike Pence announced that the US government would now directly help persecuted Christians and other minorities because much UN help has simply failed to reach Christians and other who were victims of genocide in Syria.