Britain brings in 1,100 refugees from Syria in three months

More than 1,100 Syrian refugees were brought into Britain in the first three months of this year – without a Christian among them.

Despite the suffering of Christians during seven years of civil war – including persecution by Islamic State – all the arrivals were Muslims.

And of 4,832 Syrians invited to settle here last year, only 11 were Christian. 

Turkish soldiers stand guard as Syrian refugees sit with their belongings in Akcakale in 2015

The Barnabas Fund charity, which obtained the figures under Freedom of Information laws, said: ‘It is widely accepted that Christians constituted up to 10 per cent of Syria’s pre-war population, have been specifically targeted by jihadists and continue to be at risk.

‘Yet out of more than 1,000 Syrian refugees resettled in the UK this year there was not a single Christian.

‘As last year’s statistics more than amply demonstrate this is not a statistical blip. It is significant evidence of discrimination and the Government has a legal duty to take concrete steps to address this.’

The 1,112 Syrian refugees admitted to the UK this year were among 1,358 recommended for resettlement by the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

Of those picked by the UN agency, four were Christians but none made the final list. Barnabas said UN criteria for resettlement took account of disability and sexual orientation, but did not give priority to those who may be targeted for their religious faith. 

‘We don’t want them to prioritise Christians – we want to prioritise people on the basis of their vulnerability,’ said Martin Parsons, head of research at Barnabas. 

Syrian refugees gather as they wait for food near a refugee camp in Bab Al-Salama in 2016

Syrian refugees gather as they wait for food near a refugee camp in Bab Al-Salama in 2016

‘If someone is gay, the penalty under Sharia law is death but if someone converts from Islam to Christianity, the penalty is also death.’

Islamic State fanatics have attacked Christians and churches, as well as carrying out the genocide of Yazidis and other religious minorities.

Last week its forces set off bombs in the Syrian city of Sweida, which killed 215 people in an area that blends elements of Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism.

The Home Office said: ‘The vulnerable persons resettlement scheme prioritises the most vulnerable refugees who have fled the Syrian conflict, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.

‘We are working with the UNHCR and other partners to reach groups that might be reluctant to register for the scheme for fear of discrimination and unaware of the options available to them.

‘These groups include all religious minorities.’

A century ago, Christians comprised 20 per cent of the population of the Middle East but that number has now been cut to just 4 per cent.