Refugee crisis: UK government promises extra support to UN refugee agency

Justine Greening says UNHCR will be given help to identify ‘most needy’ from camps near Syria

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The Independent Online

Britain will ensure that the UN’s refugee agency has the resources it needs to resettle the extra 20,000 Syrians it has promised to take into the UK, International Development Secretary Justine Greening said.

The Government says it will offer support to the UNHCR to identify Syrian refugees most in need, as part of its pledge, announced by David Cameron this month,  to take an additional 20,000 by 2020.

Yet the pledge for extra support to the UN came just days after the publication of the Government’s Immigration Bill, which contains controversial plans to axe benefits for failed asylum seekers, including those with children.

The plans caused uproar in the summer when it emerged that ministers want to make Britain “less attractive” to migrants by ending support for the families of failed asylum seekers.

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The Zatari Camp near Mafraq has become the country's fifth-largest city in terms of population due to the influx of Syrian refugees (EPA)

But the Government argues that resources and support should be directed towards genuine asylum seekers and refugees, including the thousands extra that Britain will take as a result of the deepening migrant crisis.

The Syrian Vulnerable Person Relocation scheme, set up last year to identify those who most needed help, including women and children at risk, survivors of torture and violence, and those in severe need of medical care, will be significantly scaled up to take the extra 20,000 Syrian refugees, the Government said.

Ms Greening said: “Britain has been supporting millions of people caught up in the brutal Syria conflict right from its start four years ago. We’ve given more than £1bn in aid – second only to the United States – for food, shelter, education and health services, helping the victims of this terrible tragedy rebuild their lives in host countries. And we will use our expertise to help speed up the resettlement of 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees from the region. This is not just morally the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do.

“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.”

Richard Harrington, the minister for Syrian refugees, said: “As the UK prepares to welcome the first arrivals under our expanded Syrian refugee scheme, I am driving forward intensive work to ensure these individuals have all the support they need. The scale of the expansion needs careful and meticulous planning to ensure we get it right. This week I chaired a meeting of more than 20 NGOs and partner organisations, who are all focused on working with us to find ways to support these refugees.

 

 

“The Government will continue to work hand in hand with charities and local authorities to resettle 20,000 people over the course of this Parliament.”

Meanwhile, Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, will travel to Brussels on Tuesday to press ahead with the Government’s renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with the EU.

Mr Hammond will meet representatives of the European Commission, members of the European Parliament, business leaders and the foreign ministers of France and Belgium to discuss EU reform.

He said: “The Government is working hard to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s relationship with the EU.

“We are confident that we will be able to negotiate a package that addresses the concerns of the British people – but the decision will be for them alone to take in the referendum we have promised.”

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