The U.S. and U.N. Have Abandoned Christian Refugees

The U.S. and U.N. Have Abandoned Christian Refugees

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Nina Shea, Director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom , writes that the current administration needs to make certain that American aid reaches Christians, Yazidis, and other displaced groups facing persecution from ISIS in Syria and Iraq.  Shea, an “international human-rights lawyer, works extensively for the advancement of individual religious freedom and other human rights in U.S. foreign policy as it confronts an ascendant Islamic extremism.”

The U.N.’s next secretary-general, António Guterres, says that persecuted Christians shouldn’t be resettled in the West.

Six months ago, Secretary of State John Kerry officially designated Islamic State as “responsible for genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other vulnerable groups in areas under ISIS control in Syria and Iraq. So why has the Obama administration entrusted the survival of these people—and so much valuable American aid—to a troubled office at the United Nations, which, like its parent organization, has never even acknowledged that the genocide exists?

The State Department says it is helping religious minorities who have fled, along with millions of other displaced Syrians and Iraqis, primarily through the U.N. America has sent over half of $5.6 billion in humanitarian aid earmarked for Syrians since 2012 to the U.N.

Yet the U.N.ʼs lead agency for aiding refugees, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), marginalizes Christians and others targeted by ISIS for eradication in two critical programs: refugee housing in the region and Syrian refugee-resettlement abroad.

For instance, the Obama administrationʼs expanded refugee program for Syria depends on refugee referrals from the UNHCR. Yet Syriaʼs genocide survivors have been consistently underrepresented. Stateʼs database shows that of 12,587 Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, only 68 were Christians and 24 were members of the Yazidi sect. That means 0.5% were Christians, though they have long accounted for 10% of Syriaʼs population. In 2015, among 1,682 Syrians admitted, there were 30 Christians and no Yazidis.

Asked about these numbers at a Sept. 28 Senate hearing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Simon Henshaw asserted that only 1% of Syriaʼs registered refugees are Christians. How to square that with the estimate that half a million Syrian Christians—a quarter of that community—have fled, as Syriac Catholic Patriarch Younan warned in August.  Read Full Story…

 

Photo: Young Syrian refugees walk near a puddle during rainy weather at Al Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, March 13, 2014.  REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

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