UK improves on Syrian Christians, but ‘could do better’
Campaigners gave a cautious welcome to new UK government figures which show that greater numbers of Syrian Christians have been resettled but said that the Home Office ‘could do better’.
The second quarter of 2018 has seen greater numbers permitted to resettle in the UK after widespread criticism of the government for failing to admit any in the first quarter.
A Freedom of Information request made by the persecuted church aid agency, Barnabas Fund, revealed that in the second quarter of 2018 (1 April – 30 June), ten Syrian Christians were resettled in the UK. The figures seem to show an improving situation compared to last year, when only eleven Syrian Christians were resettled for the whole of 2017.
In the first quarter of 2018, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) recommended 1,358 Syrian refugees for resettlement in the UK, of which only four were Christians. All the Christians were refused by the Home Office.
Although the latest figures suggest a move in the right direction, overall Christians remain significantly underrepresented. Following Barnabas Fund’s publication of the figures for the first quarter of 2018, a number of Britiish newspapers, including The Times, highlighted the story.
Christians constituted around 10 per cent of Syria’s pre-war population and have been singled out by Islamic State and other jihadist groups. Even with the inclusion of the refugees most recently resettled, Christians still make up less than one per cent of the Syrian nationals resettled in the UK to date, according to Barnabas Fund.