Christians were a meagre half-percent of the Syrian refugees welcomed to the United States in 2016, according to a report researched by Fox News.
The figure, representing a minority group Washington has already described as subject to genocide, contrasts sharply with last year’s estimated 10% Christian population of Syria.
Since the war began in 2011, between 500,000 and 1 million Christians are thought to have fled Syria. “It’s disappointingly disproportional,” Matthew Clark, senior counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, said. “[The Obama administration has] not prioritized Christians and it appears they have actually deprioritized them.”
Back in early August, NBC News reported the US was poised to meet its 10,000 Syrian refugee target. But not many in the mainstream media dedicated much attention to the numbers of minority refugees among them. Of those, Yazidis, Christians and Shia were described in March by State Secretary John Kerry as targets of ‘genocide’ by the ‘Islamic State’.
Of a total of 10,801 Syrian refugees accepted in fiscal year 2016, 17 were Yazidis, 20 were listed as Shia, and a mere single refugee as ‘of no religion’ – all groups that would be first on the Islamic jihadists’ hit list.
Only 56 Christians were admitted. The vast majority of Syrian refugees taken were Sunni Muslims.
The dearth of Christians accepted by Washington is in part because Christian refugees avoid almost entirely the UN-run refugee camps. They cite threats from Muslim fellow refugees or fears of jihadist infiltration of the camps from which refugees are referred to the US.
Many Christians also choose to stick it out in Syria, or temporarily go to urban areas to live among fellow Christians in places like Beirut.
According to Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List, Syria is ranked 5th – with a rating of “extreme” – in a list of 50 countries where Christians face the most pressure. Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II has recently warned that indigenous Christianity is at risk of disappearing in his native Syria, as well as in neighbouring Iraq and Lebanon.