The number of people resettled from Syria under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, first announced in 2014, has been published today in the government’s migration statistics for 2017. The grand total since that date has reached 10,538; just over half of the total commitment to be resettled by 2020. Local authorities, charities and communities throughout the country have welcomed people selected for the scheme because a member of the family is deemed vulnerable and would be unlikely to be able to continue living in neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon and Turkey. On hearing about the resettlement milestone, Dr Lisa Doyle, Director of Advocacy said:
We should all be celebrating the fact that more than 10,000 people who have fled Syria have been safely brought to the UK in recognition that they were too vulnerable to live in neighbouring countries. This scheme is changing lives if not saving lives of thousands of most vulnerable refugees. We hope that the government continues to show leadership and commits to building on these achievements in the future by offering more refugees around world the lifeline of a resettlement place in the UK.”
Today’s figures also tell us how many people claimed asylum and what proportion of them were granted protection; this includes those recognised as refugee and those granted Humanitarian Protection. 8,555 people, including dependants, were granted permission to stay here in recognition that they couldn’t be expected to return to their countries of origin. A further 5,000 had the initial refusal on their claim overturned by an Immigration Judge at an appeal; this was 35% of the appeals heard.
The government also released statistics relating to visas issued to family members under the Refugee Family Reunion rules. This is a vital safe route for the dependants of refugees to join their families without having to undertake a dangerous journey; recent research with Refugee Council clients showed just how important these reunifications are. In 2017, 5,218 family reunion visas were issued, a 14% fall from the year before. The Refugee Council is calling for more family members to be able to apply for these visas and supporting a Private Members Bill which has its second reading in the House of Commons on 16th March 2018.