Over 50 Peers from across the political spectrum have urged the Prime Minister to think again on the issue of resettling refugees from Syria.
The Peers have written to the Prime Minister in support of the Refugee Council’s call for the UK to offer resettlement places to the most vulnerable refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict.
Signatories to the letter include former Refugee Council Chief Executive Lord Dubs, Lord Ashdown, Baroness Berridge, Baroness Boothroyd, Baroness Kinnock and the Rt Reverend Lord Rowan Williams.
In their letter, the Lords raise concerns about the possibility of Syria’s neighbouring countries closing their borders to the thousands of refugees fleeing the conflict every day. They highlight the need for western countries like the UK to show solidarity by accepting resettled refugees.
The letter reads:
“You are well aware of the scale of the crisis which shows no signs of abating. UNHCR has predicted that next year the total Syrian refugee population will increase to over 4 million. Unsurprisingly, given the numbers crossing their borders, Syria’s neighbours are buckling under the strain.
“We are extremely alarmed to hear that scores of people trying to escape the fighting, including families with small children, are being denied admission by neighbouring countries. According to an April 2013 survey, 71 per cent of Jordanians want the border with Syria to be closed to new arrivals. With thousands of people fleeing Syria everyday, this would be catastrophic.
“There is a moral imperative on western countries to show solidarity with Syria’s neighbours by sharing the responsibility of protecting some of the people fleeing Syria.”
Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said: “We’re heartened by the growing political consensus that resettlement is the right thing to do. The countries neighbouring Syria have not had the luxury of choice about the numbers of refugees they offer safe haven to. The UK must stand alongside these countries and pledge to accept our fair share.
“For every person rescued from the region, a resettlement place would be life changing. Who are we to deny the most vulnerable people; torture survivors, women at risk of sexual violence and families with children, the chance to rebuild their lives in safety?
“The UK’s commitment to the relief effort has been extremely generous, but it’s not the only answer. The humanitarian crisis in Syria and the surrounding region is unquestionably complex; the Government must respond by deploying a full spectrum of solutions.”
Photograph of Lord Dubs by Bill Knight.