New visa rules for Syrians travelling to UK: Refugee Council response

13 Mar 2012

Home Secretary Theresa May today announced the government will introduce new visa rules which will mean people including Syrian, Libyan and Egyptian citizens will have to apply for a visa if they are traveling through UK airports, under the Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV) regime, stating: "We see this as a necessary measure to protect the security of our borders."

In response Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:

"We are very concerned that the government's change in visa rules will effectively close the borders to people who are fleeing the horrific violence and human rights abuses in Syria and the Arab Spring countries. Many of these people who have faced persecution will have been forced to leave at very short notice, and it will be impossible for them to apply for any kind of visa in order to reach a place of safety. There was a sharp increase in the number of people from Libya and Syria applying for asylum in the UK last year, showing that people from these countries are in desperate need of our protection.

"In the same week our government has called for the violence and suffering in Syria to end, it is shocking that they would also introduce measures that will prevent people fleeing that same situation from finding safety. The government has made a commitment to offer protection to people in need of it, and now is a crucial time to uphold that commitment, not to withdraw it."

ENDS

For further information please contact Philippa McIntyre on 020 7346 1214 or 07956 636 219.