New Zealand fails to offer sanctuary to any Christian refugees from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq

22 January 2019

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Government figures released to Barnabas Fund show that no Christians from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq were granted the right to resettle in New Zealand last year.

In the 12 months up to 31 October 2018, the country gave sanctuary to 1,019 refugees. Of these 277 were from Syria, 105 from Afghanistan and seven from Iraq ­– and all were Muslims.

Figures for previous years, obtained by Barnabas Fund under the Official Information Act, are equally bleak. In 2016, only six Christians were among the 377 Syrians granted sanctuary, and in the five weeks up to 10 February 2017 no Christians were among the 45 Syrians, all Muslims, who were allowed to settle. Christians made up 10% of the population of Syria before the war.

Jacinda Ardern's government denies that the religion of refugees plays a part in the decision to grant them sanctuary

A spokesman for Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government said refugees were considered for resettlement in New Zealand on the basis of “their protection needs and not religious affiliation”.

The UK government is also facing “embarrassment” over the tiny minority of Christian Syrians offered sanctuary in Britain.

Figures obtained by Barnabas Fund under a Freedom of Information request show that out of 4,850 Syrian refugees accepted for resettlement by the Home Office in 2017, only eleven were Christian, representing just 0.2% of all Syrian refugees accepted by the UK.

An article in UK’s Sunday Times on 20 January said that the finding “appears to discriminate in favour of Muslims” and “risks embarrassing the government” at a time when the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has ordered a government review into the UK’s response to the global persecution of Christians.

Related Countries

New Zealand, Syria