The Prime Minister has today announced that the UK will accept up to 20,000 refugees from Syria over the next five years.
In a statement to Parliament on the first day following the summer recess, David Cameron told MPs that the existing Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme will be expanded in order to bring more people to Britain from the countries surrounding Syria.
In his statement, the Prime Minister did not propose the introduction of other safe and legal routes to the UK for those fleeing persecution across the world, or offer to show solidarity with other EU member states by sharing responsibility for those who have already reached the shores of Europe as called for by the Refugee Council.
In response to the Government’s announcement, Refugee Council’s Chief Executive, Maurice Wren, stated:
“Each resettlement place Britain provides will be life changing, if not life-saving for some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees. We welcome the increase in the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme to 20,000 people who will now be able to reach the UK without putting their lives at risk. The programme needs to be frontloaded as the crisis is now and the expansion must happen as a matter of urgency as people are living in desperate situations in the region and cannot wait until 2020 to reach safety.
“Today’s announcement will not, however, help those who are standing on the shores of Libya, contemplating boarding a rickety boat, in a desperate attempt to reach family members already living in safety in the UK. We call on the Prime Minister to introduce other ways to allow refugees to reach the UK without having to put their lives in jeopardy.”