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Syrian Christian refugees failed by UK as Home Office policies "disproportionately advantage" Muslims


22 January 2019

Barnabas Fund research showing that the tiny minority of Christian Syrian refugees offered sanctuary in Britain are being disadvantaged by Home Office policy could “embarrass the government”, according to the Sunday Times newspaper.

Figures obtained by Barnabas Fund under a Freedom of Information request show that out of 4,850 Syrian refugees accepted for resettlement by the Home Office in 2017, only eleven were Christian, representing just 0.2% of all Syrian refugees accepted by the UK.

A Sunday Times article on 20 January said that the finding “appears to discriminate in favour of Muslims” and “risks embarrassing the government” at a time when the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has ordered a government review into the UK’s response to the global persecution of Christians.

Caption
Displaced Syrian Christian family, wrapped up as best they can against biting winter cold, gratefully receive a wood burning stove from Barnabas Fund

The Home Office said it did not consider its actions to be discriminatory. However, Barnabas Fund put a further Freedom of Information request asking to see the equality assessments the Home Office are legally required to undertake. These stated “given that 87% of Syrians are Muslim, it is likely that this religious group [Christians] will be disproportionately advantaged” which appeared to admit disadvantaging Christian refugees from Syria, where they numbered up to 10% of the population before the war.

Figures released to Barnabas Fund on 17 January by the New Zealand government show that out of the 277 Syrians allowed to resettle there in the 12 months up to 31 October 2018, all were Muslims.