By Patrick Goodenough • CNSNews.com
Since the Paris terror attacks on November 13, the State Department has admitted 132 Syrian refugees into the United States, and all 132 are Sunni Muslims.
No Christian, Druze, Shi’ite, Alawite, or member of any other religious minority in Syria has been admitted over that period, according to data from the State Department Refugee Processing Center.
The majority of the 132 Syrian refugees permitted to resettle in the U.S. since November 13 (72) are male, the minority female (60). Of the 132 total, 39 (29.5 percent) have been men between the ages of 14 and 50.
Another 53 (40 percent) are children aged under 14, of whom 30 are males and 23 females.
The Paris terror attacks, which killed 130 people and were claimed by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL), brought fresh scrutiny onto the issue of refugees from the Syrian conflict, amid concerns the terrorist group was seeking to infiltrate Western countries through refugee settlement programs.
The Refugee Processing Center admission figures since the attacks in Paris continue a trend evident since the start of the current fiscal year, on October 1. President Obama plans to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. during fiscal year 2016.
Since FY2016 began two months ago, 423 Syrian refugees have been admitted into the U.S., of whom 418 (98.8 percent) were Sunni Muslims. The remaining five (1.2 percent) were Christians – three Catholic, one Orthodox and one simply described as “Christian.”
One hundred and eleven of them (26 percent) are men aged between 14 and 50.
The age and gender breakdown of the 423 refugees admitted in FY2016 is:
Under 14: 108 male 88 female
14-50: 111 male 95 female
Over 50: 11 male 10 female
Total: 230 male 193 female
A similar trend can be seen over the entire period of the Syrian civil war, which began in mid-March 2011.
Over that time, a total of 2,296 Syrian refugees have been admitted into the U.S. as of Monday. Of those, 2,137 (93 percent) were Sunni Muslims, an additional 60 were described simply as “Moslem,” and 13 were Shia.
Only 53 (2.3 percent) were Christian (including five Orthodox and four Catholics). The remaining religious breakdown was eight Jehovah’s Witness, six Zoroastrians, three atheists, two Baha’i, one Yazidi, seven “no religion” and six “other religion.”
Of the total 2,296 Syrian refugees admitted since March 2011, 633 (27.5 percent) are men aged between 14 and 50.
Therefore, more than one-quarter of the Syrian refugees allowed entry into the U.S. since the conflict began are men aged 14-50, and the vast majority of them are Sunni Muslim.
Christians Underrepresented Among Admitted Refugees
Syrian Christians – like other non-Sunni minorities – have been singled out for persecution by ISIS and other jihadist groups fighting there.
Yet the Christian cohort among the Syrian refugees accepted into the U.S. since the war began (2.3 percent) is considerably smaller than the proportion of Christians in the Syrian population – 10 percent, according to the CIA World Factbook.
At the same time, the proportion of Sunni Muslims among the accepted refugees (93 percent since the war began) is significantly higher than the proportion of Sunni Muslims in the Syrian population – 74 percent.
One possible reason for this is that most refugees considered for resettlement in the U.S. are first referred by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – but according to Christian relief groups Christians flying the conflict are often afraid to register with the U.N. and generally avoid U.N. refugee camps because they are targeted there too.
(Incidentally, although civil war deaths and displacement have had an enormous impact on the population, according to the CIA World Factbook the proportion of Sunni Muslims remains steady: The total estimated population figure has dropped from 22.5 million in mid-2010 to 17.06 million in mid-2014, but the Sunni proportion of 74 percent has not changed over that period.)
CNSNews.com has submitted questions to the State Department and its Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration about the relatively small proportion of Christians among the Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S.
‘Infiltration of terrorists’
After the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, French prosecutors said that at least two of the attackers traveled through Greece posing as refugees fleeing from the Syrian conflict. A Syrian passport found near the body of one of the suicide bombers involved in the attack had been used by a person who arrived in Greece from Turkey in October, claiming to be a refugee.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Czech Television in an interview due to air on Tuesday that most of the refugees from his country trying to get into Europe were “good Syrians” and “patriot[s].”
“But of course you have infiltration of the terrorists among them, that’s true,” he added, according to excerpts released by the network.
A State Department factsheet issued last Wednesday stated that Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. since the beginning of FY2011 were allowed to do so “only after the most extensive level of security screening of any category of traveler to the United States. None have been arrested or removed on terrorism charges.”
It said that refugees of all nationalities considered for admission to the U.S. “undergo a rigorous security screening involving multiple federal intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies.”
“Mindful of the particular conditions of the Syria crisis, Syrian refugees go through an enhanced level of review,” the State Department said.