UK Resettlement of Syrian refugees on track thanks to welcome from British public
Marking the anniversary of the UK’s decision to expand the resettlement programme for Syrian refugees (Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme – VPRS) announced in September 2015, UNHCR Representative to the United Kingdom Gonzalo Vargas Llosa said:
“The UK’s move to substantially expand its resettlement programme for vulnerable Syrian refugees last September was a landmark decision, a clear show of solidarity with Syrian refugees and the neighbouring countries hosting them. It opens another chapter in the UK’s long and proud tradition of offering sanctuary to those fleeing conflict and persecution. It also reflects the groundswell of support for refugees on the part of the British public.
“Much has been achieved over the past year and it is important to recognise that. Working in support of meeting the UK government’s commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrians by 2020, UNHCR has submitted to the government more than 7,800 vulnerable Syrian refugees to date: 5,143 in 2016, 2,409 in 2015 and 283 in 2014, when the VPRS began. Before the end of this year UNHCR plans to submit another 2,230 Syrian refugees for resettlement.
“By the end of June, more than 2,800 Syrian refugees arrived in the UK. There have been further arrivals in July and August. Local authorities across the UK have pledged 20,000 places for Syrian refugees and the new community sponsorship aspect of the UK’s Syrian resettlement programme has also been recently launched. The government also announced earlier this week additional resources for English language classes to help refugees to integrate – a move which we welcome.
“Resettlement is a life-saving, durable solution and a legal pathway for refugees to access safety.
As we witness unprecedented levels of forced displacement around the world, a focus on solutions for the most vulnerable refugees has never been more important – particularly in a crisis such as Syria where conflict rages on and peace remains elusive.
“UNHCR estimates that at least 10 per cent of the 4.8 million Syrian refugees in countries neighbouring Syria will need resettling or other secure pathways to safely move elsewhere before the end of 2018. This includes people considered acutely vulnerable, such as survivors of torture, refugees with serious medical conditions or women left alone with several children to care for and without family support.
“Keeping the focus on the integration of Syrian refugees in the UK will be vital for the success and sustainability of the UK’s resettlement scheme for Syrian refugees. Their reception, orientation, language classes, job opportunities and family reunification will be essential for Syrian refugees to integrate successfully. Refugees may arrive in their new countries with only a few belongings but they also bring with them their most valuable assets – their skills and the desire to give back to the communities that welcome them.”