We warmly welcome today’s announcement outlining the Government’s firm commitment to the future of the UK’s refugee resettlement programme. Resettlement provides life changing if not lifesaving support to the world’s most vulnerable refugees – people who have managed to survive brutal conflict, war and persecution but are still unable to return home. Day in, day out, as a national charity providing resettlement services across England we see the truly transformative impact resettlement schemes have on people’s lives.
The UK Government should be immensely proud of its achievements through the various resettlement programmes, starting with the Gateway Protection Programme in 2006 and more recently with the Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) programmes. These programmes have provided an important role in the global response to displacement.
The UK resettlement programmes are a fantastic example of what can be achieved when government, local authorities and NGOs work together to deliver high quality programmes. The response from local authorities in supporting the VPRS programme has been extremely encouraging, demonstrating that resettlement can work across the UK from large cities, market towns to much smaller rural communities.
We fully endorse the move towards consolidating the existing schemes into a single programme. This will help to ensure the UK resettlement programme is more responsive to changes in global conflict situations and resettlement needs, and better able to offer the life changing opportunity of resettlement to the most vulnerable refugees displaced by conflict, wherever they are in the world.
One of the key drivers behind the success of the current resettlement programmes is the level of high quality integration support available to individuals and families. This support is invaluable in helping refugees settle into their new communities, rebuild their lives and contribute to society.
We call for the government to take the opportunity to mirror the long established best practice from the resettlement programmes to ensure that all refugees are able to benefit from high quality integration support regardless of their route of entry into the UK. Refugees granted status as a result of the asylum system are as deserving as those granted via resettlement
Tragically, the number of protracted conflict situations are as high as they ever have been, with the UNHCR estimating that a staggering 1.4 million refugees are currently in need of resettlement places. Only a fraction of those in need will be able to be resettled due to a shortage in global resettlement places.
Today’s announcement firmly establishes the UK as a global leader in resettlement and we hope other states will follow the example set by the UK, towards long term commitments to high quality refugee resettlement programmes.
We look forward to continued working with both national and local government to support this vital work. Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said:
“The Refugee Council warmly welcomes the Government’s commitment to the future of the UK’s refugee resettlement programme through a single, consolidated scheme. Every single resettlement place the UK provides is a vital lifeline to someone who has managed to survive war, conflict and persecution but is still unable to return home.
“Since 2015, UK resettlement schemes have proved an invaluable safe and regular route to the UK for refugees who would otherwise be left to live in extremely perilous situations overseas.
“The government should be immensely proud of all its achievements here. Day in, day out, we see resettlement’s truly transformative impact: watching a family that’s spent years living in a dangerous refugee camp being given the keys to their new home and being shown around their local area, or children who were born during conflict having their first day at school.
“Not only this, refugees contribute an enormous amount to Britain—put simply, communities where refugees have resettled become stronger, higher achieving communities than those where they haven’t.
“Our sincere hope is that the Government goes further by supporting refugees for the long term—beyond 2021. As the numbers of people being displaced globally soars to a record high, this is clearly the right and wholly necessary thing to do.”