Of 11,491 Syrian refugees resettled in 2016, few are Christians

(Photo: WCC Marianne / Ejdersten)Representatives of the World Council of Churches visited Greece in October 2015 to strengthen efforts in support of refugees in Europe and the Middle East. The WCC solidarity visit was hosted by the The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the [Orthodox] Church of Greece.

The United States has exceeded its Syrian refugee admission target for 2016 by 15 percent, with 11,491 resettled in the country as of Sept 12 with only a minute percentage of them being Christians.

Since President Barack Obama's goal of 10,000 Syrian refugee admissions in the 2016 financial year was achieved on Aug. 29, the number continues to pick up steadily, CNSnews reports.

The news service reported that the total was 15 percent over the target for the United States, but that just 0.46 percent of the refuges being Christians, but most churches say all refugees should be welcome.

Under pressure from Europe and other countries confronting the global migration crisis last fall, Obama had raised the number of Syrian refugees who would be offered legal status to at least 10,000 in the 2016 fiscal year, The New York Times reported.

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August ended with a new monthly record of 3,189 Syrian refugee arrivals, and a further 751 have been ushered in so far in September: 749 Sunni Muslims; two Catholic Christians.

They comprise 14 Catholics, six Orthodox, four Protestants, one Greek Orthodox, plus 29 refugees identifying themselves simply as "Christian" rather than by denomination or sect.

The remaining 137 are made of up of 20 Shi'a Muslims, 90 refugees described simply as Muslims, 17 Yazidis, four Jehovah's Witnesses, five refugees identified as "other religion," and one as having "no religion."

The number are likely to fuel the fodder for Donald Trump's anti-immigration and Muslim election campaign, but the U.S. numbers of refugees from a war that is related to American activities in the region are minuscule.

State Department Refugee Processing Center data show that of the now total 11,491 arrivals this fiscal year, the vast majority – 11,300, or 98.33 percent – are Sunnis.

ONLY 54 CHRISTIANS

Just 54 of the 11,491 are Christians. They comprise 14 Catholics, six Orthodox, four Protestants, one Greek Orthodox, plus 29 refugees identifying themselves simply as "Christian" rather than by denomination or sect.

The remaining 137 are made of up of 20 Shi'a Muslims, 90 refugees described simply as Muslims, 17 Yazidis, four Jehovah's Witnesses, five refugees identified as "other religion," and one as having "no religion."

Millions of Syrians of all religious persuasions have fled the civil war ravaging their country since mid-2011. At the start of the conflict an estimated 74 percent of Syrians were Sunni Muslims and an estimated 10 percent were Christians.

The refugees who have arrived from Syria since 2012 have been placed in 231 towns and cities, the Times report said.

Some of them have gone to large cities like Chicago and Houston, but most have been sent to more affordable, medium-size cities.

Boise, Idaho, has accepted more refugees than New York and Los Angeles combined; Worcester, Mass., has taken in more than Boston.

With the 10,000 admitted this fiscal year, the United States has now accepted nearly 12,000 Syrian refugees since the civil war began five years ago.

Since the civil war began, the U.S. has admitted a total of 13,364 Syrian refugees, of whom 13,019 (97.4 percent) are Sunnis and 102 (0.7 percent) are Christians.

The remainder include Shi'a Muslims (33), other Muslims (150), Yazidis (18), Jehovah's Witnesses (12), Zoroastrians (6), refugees self-reported as having "no religion" (8), refugees identifying themselves as "other religion" (11), atheists (3) and Baha'i (2).

150,000 SYRIANS IN THE US

More than 150,000 Syrians already live in the United States, census figures indicate, and refugees who have relatives in the country are likely to be resettled with or near them.

In the UK more than 200 religious leaders have urged the government to relax immigration rules so refugees from Syria and other areas can be reunited with their families, the BBC reports.

In a letter to UK Prime Minister Theresa May, they say close relatives of Britons and refugees already in the country are living abroad in "desperate conditions" and should be given a legal route in.

People are now making "unsafe" journeys with "avoidable tragedies", they say.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is among representatives from the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh faiths to have signed the letter to the prime minister.

The signatories, who are acting in a personal capacity, also include Baroness Rabbi Julia Neuberger and Muslim Council of Britain secretary general Harun Rashid Khan.

Currently the U.N. refugee agency has 4.79 million Syrians registered as refugees, with the largest numbers in Turkey (2.7 million), Lebanon (1.03 million), Jordan (656,000) and Iraq (239,000).

In the past, the United States admitted far larger numbers of refugees. In 1979, it provided sanctuary to 111,000 Vietnamese refugees, and in 1980, it added another 207,000.

Around the same time, the country took in more than 120,000 Cuban refugees during the Mariel boatlift, including around 80,000 in one month alone.

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