UK Catholics welcome Syrian refugees

UK Catholics have joined a government project to resettle an estimated 20,000 refugees from the Syrian war.

Although there is some obvious concern in the UK that the refugees may include terrorists, organizers say they are confident the refugees, who are drawn from predominantly Muslim camps, will not include members of the Islamic State terror group.

An estimated 11 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of the civil war in March 2011. Now, in the sixth year of war, 13.5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance within the country.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 4.8 million have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, and 6.6 million are internally displaced within Syria.

About one million have requested asylum to Europe. Germany, with more than 300,000 cumulated applications, and Sweden with 100,000, are EU’s top receiving countries.

Philip McCarthy, chief executive of Caritas Social Action Network, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales agency coordinating the project among the parishes, said all the refugees would be rigorously screened by the British government and the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR.

“People will be coming through the government scheme, so they will part of the same 20,000, and they will have already been screened by the United Nations and by others,” he told Catholic News Service in a July 20 telephone interview.

“These are not people we are taking over and above (the 20,000) or independently,” he added.


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