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Syrians begin to arrive from camps

Publisher: The Sunday Times
Author: James Lyons
Story date: 20/09/2015
Language: English

THE first wave of Syrian refugees brought to Britain under the government's plan to resettle some of the most vulnerable people fleeing the conflict are due to arrive this week.

The UK has pledged to take 20,000 additional Syrians from refugee camps in the region in response to the crisis.

Justine Greening, the international development secretary, will today promise the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, more resources to identify those most in need.

Britain is also speeding up the handover of army barracks in Germany that will be used to house some of the migrants flocking to the country.

Fallingbostel, in northern Germany, home to UK troops for 70 years, was not due to be returned to the country's authorities until March but that will now happen within weeks.

Javelin barracks, in Elmpt, near Düsseldorf, will also be given back to the Germans a month early, while Harewood barracks in Herford, west of Hanover, has already been released.

The process was accelerated after Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, urged officials to be as helpful as possible.

Unlike the UK, Germany has been welcoming migrants who reach Europe.

A Ministry of Defence source stressed that Britain remains determined to take refugees only from camps in Lebanon and other countries neighbouring Syria — rather than those who try to make it here themselves.

"Our own policy remains focused on taking refugees from camps," the source said.

"This is a practical step to help Germany with the migration challenges it is facing."

Ministers set up the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme last year to bring those most at risk from refugee camps in Lebanon and other countries in the region to Britain.

Only a couple of hundred women and children, survivors of torture and violence and those in severe need of medical care had been brought here, but Britain will now take another 20,000 over five years.

"Britain has been supporting millions of people caught up in the brutal Syria conflict right from its start four years ago," Greening said. "We've given more than £1bn in aid — second only to the United States.

"By taking refugees directly from camps in the region we are ensuring that we reach the most vulnerable, while our aid continues to support others to stay in the region rather than make the perilous journey to Europe," she said.
 

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