He told the Jeremy Vine Show that Syrian Muslims could flee to neighbouring countries.
\”It\’s bad enough for Sunni and Shia. At least there are neighbouring countries that will take them,\” he said.
\”Where on Earth are the Christians going to go? Christians are now a seriously persecuted minority.\”
A spokesperson added: \”Christians are being increasingly persecuted across the Middle East and Syria as extreme Islamist elements seek to purge the region of Christianity.
Officials in Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria are already taking steps to prevent the spread of the disease. The UN Health Agency and Turkey started a massive vaccination campaign to immunise all refugee children younger than 5.
Genetic sequencing by experts has shown that the strain of virus found in Deir al-Zor Province, Syria, originated from Pakistan. Experts blame the jihadist militants who travel from Pakistan to Syria to take part in the Syrian civil war for the spread.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been doing everything it can — from attacking and sometimes killing vaccination team members, or threatening parents and their children — to stop Pakistanis in the tribal region from getting the oral polio vaccine (OPV).
Both the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization assessed there is a considerable risk that polio could spread to other countries in the region. There is also a risk of infection in European countries that received Syrian refugees.
Extremists in Northwest Pakistan have been killing those trying to vaccinate children in that area for the last two years. The same in Nigeria – to some fundamentalists – absolutely everything is political – including science – witness tea-baggers in US and UK denying climate change.
Islamist fighters from countries including Pakistan are among groups battling to oust President Bashar al-Assad, leading to speculation that they brought the virus into the country.
A US official Thursday confirmed an Israeli air raid on the Syrian city of Latakia.
The official, who declined to be identified, told CNN that Israeli warplanes struck Syrian missiles in Latakia on Wednesday.
The war in Syria has changed so much. The loss of innocence, the phrase so often used to lament the effect of war on the young, has affected the whole country. What was, just two years ago, one of the safest countries in the Middle East is now a war zone. No part of Syria is untouched by violence. As these photographs from Dimitar Dilkoff show, children have been dragged to the front line and the experience of war has escaped few.
It is in these photographs that we see the truth of the Syrian conflict. These are not the terrorists and foreigners of Bashar Al Assad’s fiction. These are the boys and girls of the country, the future men and women of Syria, now begging, fighting, hiding, and surviving, merely for demanding the right to live in freedom.
These are the children of Syria’s war. Boys and girls who cannot go to school, cannot play in the streets safely, cannot live a normal life. These are children who are now breadwinners, whose fathers are dead or vanished, who hear their mothers mourn in the dark hours of the night, children who can no longer remember the voices of their dead friends. It is they who must line up, small elbows jostling, in the filth of refugee camps, edging forward in never-ending lines to bring food and water back to their families, or dodge the snipers and the sadists of Assad’s armies to buy bread from the few bakeries the regime has not bombed.
What makes these images so heart-breaking is how old these children look. In their faces is written the pain of the last two years of the revolution, the terrifying reality of children becoming adults, brutalised into maturity, seeing things no adults should see and feeling things no child should know.
These are the faces of a lost generation. The faces of the millions who have fled Syria or fled their homes for safe haven within their former country, boys and girls whose entire childhoods have been swept away by, as the war poet Wilfred Owen wrote, the monstrous anger of the guns.
* Faisal Al Yafai, opinion writer for The National