U.S., U.N. accused of failing to help Christians seeking to escape from ISIS persecution in Syria
A faith-based alliance of Christians has accused the U.S. government of not doing enough to save Christians and other religious minorities in Syria who have been targeted for death, sexual slavery, displacement, cultural eradication and forced conversion by the Islamic State (ISIS).
In a statement, the Institute of Religion and Democracy (IRD) said the "U.S. government's response has been woefully inadequate—neither helping these minorities defend themselves and stay, nor providing them asylum to leave," Charisma News reported.
Many of the persecuted Christians are praying to escape to the United States. But unfortunately many of them have been excluded from the list of refugees that the U.S. agrees to take as Muslim migrants appear to have been given priority status.
According to Charisma News, the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration has informed officials at The Barnabas Fund, a Christian relief agency, that "there is no way that Christians will be supported because of their religious affiliation."
Data from the State Department's Refugee Processing Center for Fiscal Year 2015 shows that so far Syrian refugees who have been resettled in the U.S. were 97 percent Muslim.
In the past five years, only 53, or 2.5 percent, Christians out of 2,003 Syrian refugees were accepted by the United States, according to The Hudson Institute's Nina Shea, in a November 2 article in National Review. The selective choice of refugees to take was evident considering that 10 percent of the Syrian refugees seeking resettlement are Christians.
IRD Religious Liberty Director Faith McDonnell said the Christians facing persecution in Syria have a lot of hurdles to overcome in their aspiration to find new homes in America.
"Christians cannot go to U.N.-run refugee camps because there they face the same persecution and terror from which they fled," she said. "If they are not in the refugee camps, they are not included in the application process for asylum. The State Department knows this, but continues to allow the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to select refugees for asylum with no regard to the endangered religious minorities."
McDonnell said the U.N. and the U.S. government are not the only ones to blame for this injustice.
"U.S. organisations who resettle refugees are also to blame," she said. Ironically, these include Christian groups that resist any special focus on Christian victims of ISIS, and those who oppose actions by Congress to welcome not just economic migrants but also Christians and other religious minorities victimised by ISIS.
"Other religious minorities—such as Jews, Yazidis, Mandaeans, Shia Shabaks and Turkmen—are also being targeted, and largely left out of refugee resettlement," she said.
Only one Yazidi was resettled in the U.S. in the past five years of Syria's civil war, even though thousands of Yazidi girls are taken as sex slaves by ISIS," McDonnell said.