US welcomes fewer refugees – but more Christians than Muslims

More Christian refugees are arriving in the US than any other religious group, the latest research confirms, as the overall number being welcomed to America falls despite rapidly growing need.

The number of displaced people hit a high of 17.2million in 2016, rivalling the early 1990s after the Berlin Wall's collapse. But this came as the US failed to expand its intake of refugees to meet global need, analysis published by the Washington-based Pew Research Center today found.

ReutersRefugee numbers from Myanmar, such Amina Khatun, a 30 year old Rohingya, have rapidly increased and between 2002 and 2017, 55 per cent of refugees entering the US came from Myanmar, Iraq, Somalia or Bhutan.

Although fears were raised at the end of Barack Obama's presidency about the high numbers of Muslim refugees entering the US, the research confirms that Christianity is the most common religion among those arriving and Islam the second most common.

Confusion around the religious make-up of those fleeing to the US could stem from reports of refugees from Syria where the population is 90 per cent Muslim so inevitably more Syrian refugees are going to be Muslim than Christian.

While the number of Islamic refugees coming to the US is rising, and 2016 saw record numbers of Muslims arriving, Christians continue to make up the largest share.

'Even with the recent rise in the number of Muslim refugees, far more Christian than Muslim refugees have been admitted into the US since fiscal 2002,' Pew's report states. 'Nearly 425,000 Christian refugees entered the US over that period, accounting for 46 per cent of all refugee arrivals.

'At the same time, about a third (33 per cent) of all refugees admitted to the US between 2002 and 2017, or slightly more than 302,000, were Muslim.'

It comes after research in July revealed that during the final year of Obama's presidency more Muslims than Christians entered, largely because of high levels of conflict in the Middle East, but that trend was reversed in the first months of Trump's presidency.

The latest data reveals that the US is only taking in about 0.2 per cent of the world's refugee population under Trump – far below its historic average.

'For several decades, the annual volume of US refugee arrivals has generally waxed and waned with the world's overall refugee population,' the report says.

'However, the number of refugees resettled in the US under President Obama was lower than in previous times of high refugee resettlement in the US and did not keep pace with the world's refugee population,' it adds.

'Thus far in 2017, about 28,000 refugees have been resettled in the US, far less than in 2016, according to US State Department data. If the number of refugees worldwide remains the same as in 2016 and if few refugees enter the US for the rest of 2017, the US is on track to accept just 0.2 per cent of the world's refugee population – far less than the historic average of 0.6 per cent, and lower even than the share admitted in 2001 and 2002, in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.'