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Of the 2,099 Syrian refugees admitted so far this year, six (0.28 percent) are Christians, 2,043 (97.3 percent) are Sunni Muslims. The remaining 50 are 17 (0.8 percent) Shi’a, 30 (1.4 percent) other Muslims and 10 (0.47 percent) Yazidis.
Similar proportions are seen in the number of Syrian refugees having arrived in the U.S. since the start of fiscal year 2016: 2,773 in total, comprising 12 (0.4 percent) Christians, 2,703 (97.4 percent) Sunnis, 17 (0.6 percent) Shi’a, 30 (1.1 percent) other Muslims and 10 (0.3 percent) Yazidis.
And since the conflict erupted, of a total of 4,646 Syrian refugees admitted, 60 (1.3 percent) are Christians; 4,422 (95.1 percent) are Sunni Muslims. The remaining 163 include Shi’a, other Muslims, Zoroastrians, Baha’i, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Yazidi, and refugees identified as “other religion” or as having “no religion.”
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Although Syrians of all stripes have been affected, the number of Christians among those admitted into the U.S. – 1.3 percent – remains significantly smaller than the proportion of Christians in the total population when the war began – an estimated 10 percent, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Last week, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said the very small proportion of Christians among Syrian refugees resettled in the U.S. “has got to change.”
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As CNSNews.com has reported previously, groups aiding Syrian Christians say many of those who have left the country avoid UNHCR refugee camps due to safety fears, seeking shelter instead with churches, charitable organizations or relatives in surrounding countries.
Since the U.S. relies on UNHCR referrals at the early stage of processing refugee status applications, Christians may as a result be disadvantaged.
The UNHCR has itself acknowledged that minorities “fear that registration might bring retribution from other refugees” in the camps.
It has also said that accommodation in a camp is not a requirement for refugees to be registered with the agency.
1,037 Syrian Refugees Admitted in May: Two Christians, 1,035 Muslims
By Patrick Goodenough