The Prime Minister has announced that he will ‘modestly expand’ Britain’s special resettlement programme for Syrian refugees.
According to media reports, Government sources have indicated that Britain will resettle ‘a few hundred more’ people but the total will not exceed 1,000.
The British Government had previously committed to resettling ‘several hundred’ Syrian refugees over a three year period, with just 187 people having arrived in Britain so far.
Speaking at a security conference in Bratislava, the Prime Minister said: “Today I can announce that we will work with the United Nations to modestly expand this national scheme so that we provide resettlement for the most vulnerable fleeing Syria, those who cannot be adequately protected in neighbouring countries.”
Figures released yesterday showed that global displacement had reached a record high, fuelled by the brutal Syrian conflict which has been raging for over four years.
The Refugee Council has been campaigning for Britain to resettle more of Syria’s 4 million refugees – a move which would save lives and send an important message of solidarity to the countries neighbouring Syria who are hosting 95% of the conflict’s refugees.
While the commitment is welcome news, we would like to see the Government going further and making similar pledges to other countries who are resettling thousands of vulnerable refugees.
Elsewhere, Germany has promised to admit 30,000 Syrian refugees and Norway recently pledged to offer a further 8,000 places. Switzerland is offering a lifeline to 3,500 Syrian refugees and Austria has pledged to give 1,500 Syrian refugees humanitarian visas.
In a climate where children are sent to work in order to help their parents survive, where young girls are sold off as child brides and where torture victims are unable to rebuild their lives, every resettlement place countries like Britain provide is a lifeline.
Responding to the news, Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Dr Lisa Doyle said: “This news, quite simply, will transform people’s lives. Each resettlement place Britain provides will be life changing, if not life-saving for some of the most desperate men, women and children on the planet.
“However, we are in the grip of the greatest refugee crisis in recent memory and this commitment still pales in comparison to pledges made by other European countries.
“Britain has a proud tradition of protecting and welcoming refugees: the Government must uphold this reputation by going the extra mile and offering a safe haven to thousands, not hundreds, of refugees from Syria who so desperately need it.”