Christian refugees from Syria are being ignored says church

Migrants and refugees paddling a rubber dinghy close to the beach at Psalidi near Kos, Greece.

Migrants and refugees paddling a rubber dinghy close to the beach at Psalidi near Kos, Greece.

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Christian refugees fleeing Syria are being bypassed in Britain’s resettlement programme, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has warned.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols said it was a “fact” that Christians were the most persecuted people on earth, but few followers of the faith trying to escape the dual horrors of Bashar Assad’s brutal regime and the rise of Islamic State would be given sanctuary in the UK under the Government’s scheme.

The Archbishop of Westminster also defended the Vatican over the controversial trial of two Italian journalists on charges of publishing leaked Holy See documents, insisting every organisation had “expectations of confidentiality”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “When those are manifestly breached then I’m not surprised there is a reaction. I think it would be the same in Conservative central office, frankly.”

Human rights groups have branded the trial of Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi, who face up to eight years in jail for publishing documents about financial mismanagement within the Vatican, as “Kafkaesque”.

Asked if it was a difficult case for the Pope, the Archbishop replied: “I think it is more of a difficult case for the media, which sometimes hold themselves above accountability and above a fundamental respect for people.”

Cardinal Nichols said Christians had always faced persecution but must do more to keep the issue in the public eye. Under a Government programme, 20,000 refugees will be brought to Britain from camps around Syria run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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