By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM (ANS – Nov. 17, 2017) — Christians fleeing Islamic State in Syria are being discriminated against by Britain, it has been claimed.
Figures obtained by the Barnabas Aid – an agency which helps persecuted Christians – show that the British Government, and the United Nations, have prioritized Sunni Muslims over Christians for asylum, reports the UK-based Daily Express in an article by David Maddox.
It says that of 8,136 given shelter in the UK in 2015 and 2016, only 70 were Christians, and a mere 22 were Yazadis, a religious group that combines Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
There were 33 Shi’ite Muslims and the rest were Sunni. Of 10,801 resettled by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees between October 2015 and September 2016, only 56 were Christians, 20 Shi’ite and 17 Yazidis.
The rest were Sunnis. This is despite IS efforts to wipe out Christians and Yazadis. In 2014, 10,000 Yazadis were killed or kidnapped in a few days, with Christians murdered in their thousands by IS.
Martin Parsons, of Barnabas Fund, an aid agency which works for persecuted Christians, said: “This is shocking behavior by the UN and UK officials.
“In 2005 the UN adopted the responsibility of states to protect citizens from genocide and crimes against humanity. These statistics show that it has failed miserably in this. Christians and other minorities have been treated shamefully by the UN. And the UK has outsourced its own responsibilities in spite of repeated representations.”
The Home Office said: “Our scheme will prioritize the most vulnerable refugees. “That is why under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees identifies people using established vulnerability criteria.”
Barnabas Fund, however, says that Whitehall officials attempted to block access to statistics which reveal how victims of genocide are neglected by the UK and the UN.
Last week, Barnabas Aid finally obtained figures proving that the UN has only recommended tiny token numbers of Syrian Christians, Yazidis and other minorities for resettlement in the UK.
The figures show 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 for attack by Islamist groups such as IS.
The new statistics, obtained in a Freedom of Information Request to the British Home Office by Barnabas Aid, of the religious background of Syrian asylum seekers recommended by the UNHCR for resettlement in the UK revealed that 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 Shia’s 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 Aid 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 Aid lodged a formal complaint with the Information Commissioner’s office.on September 19, and the 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 Aid 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 behavior 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 Aid.
“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 Aid 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.
Photo captions: 1) Christians fleeing Islamic State in Syria are being discriminated against by Britain (Getty). 2) Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State (Reuters). 3) Martin Parsons of Barnabas Aid. 4) Michael Ireland of ASSIST News Service.
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister, and an award-winning local cable-TV program host/producer who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. You may follow Michael on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MichaelIrelandMediaMissionary.com, and on Twitter at @Michael_ASSIST. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
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