Britain still needs to do more to help Syrian refugees, says Jeremy Corbyn

Corbyn also praised the Government’s efforts to provide aid to Syrian refugees on the ground near the battlezone

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Indy Politics

Britain should “reach out the hand of humanity” to refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, Labour’s new leader has said.

Jeremy Corbyn praised the Government’s efforts to provide aid to Syrian refugees on the ground near the battlezone but said Britain needed to do more to help people coming to Europe for safety. 

“These refugees are the victims of war - many the victims of the brutal conflict in Syria. It is a huge crisis, the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War. And globally it’s the biggest refugee crisis there has ever been,” he told an audience in Brighton at his party’s annual conference.

“But the scale of the response from the government, Europe and the international community isn’t enough. And whilst the government is providing welcome aid to the region, especially in the Lebanon, we all know much more needs to be done. 

“Because it’s a crisis of human beings just like you and just like me looking for security and looking for safety. Let’s reach out the hand of humanity and friendship to them.”

David Cameron has said the UK will take 4,000 refugees a year for the next five years, a total of 20,000. These refugees will be drawn from people living in camps in countries neighboring Syria and people coming to Europe of their own accord will not be included.

The UK has also opted out of a European Union scheme to relocate 120,000 migrants who have already travelled Europe.

Britain’s efforts to accommodate refugees pale in comparison to those made by similar economies. Germany’s vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said the country could accept up to a million refugees this year and take hundreds of thousands for the next few years.

Mr Corbyn has made help for Syrian refugees a key part of his leadership so far; one of his first acts as leader of the Labour party was to attend a demonstration in support of Britain doing more to help.

He said earlier this month that British forces launching an air campaign would not help solve the refugees’ problems.

The issue was also extensively raised by Yvette Cooper during the Labour leadership campaign.

The Government has preferred to send money rather than offer asylum to Syrians. Ministers have previously said that offering asylum could encourage people to make a dangerous journey to Europe fleeing a warzone. 

The UK says it has provided an around £1bn contribution UK’s contribution to refugees in Syria and its surrounding countries Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.