CNS News reports that in total, more than 18,000 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the United States during the Obama administration. In 2016 alone, over 15,400 Syrian refugees were admitted, 98.8% of whom are allegedly Muslim, while only 0.8% are Christian.
This doesn’t match the demographic makeup of Syria as we know it based on data gathered prior to the nation’s civil war.
According to the State Department, Muslims (Sunni, Shia, and others) make up approximately 90% of the Syrian population. 10% of Syrians are Christians. Why is there such a discrepancy in the flow of refugees? Is the United States discriminating against Christian refugees? Not exactly.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has a massive refugee camp in Jordan called Za’atari, is the organization that refers Syrian refugees to the United States. Fox News reports that “Christians in the main United Nations refugee camp in Jordan are subject to persecution, they say, and so flee the camps, meaning they are not included in the refugees referred to the U.S. by the U.N.”
According to Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, Christians flee the camps for good reason:
“The Christians don’t reside in those camps because it is too dangerous. They are preyed upon by other residents from the Sunni community, and there is infiltration by ISIS and criminal gangs…They are raped, abducted into slavery and they are abducted for ransom. It is extremely dangerous; there is not a single Christian in the Jordanian camps for Syrian refugees.”
Elliott Abrams, writing for Newsweek, suggests that the United States “allow Christians, and other religious minorities, to apply directly for refugee status, not through the U.N.,” and notes that Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) brought forward legislation to that effect last March.
The process by which the United States accepts refugees from Syria is certainly in need of reform. Syrian Christians need our help as badly as Muslims. That said, the United States does accept Christian refugees.
Overall, approximately 399,677 Christian refugees have come to the U.S. over the last 15 years, according to Pew Research. In fact, Christian refugee admittance has outpaced Muslim admittance by more than 120,000 during that time.