British failure to take Syrian refugees is 'neglect of duty,' says shadow Home Secretary

Yvette Cooper says 'the Government should be ashamed of its failure to support some of the most vulnerable people in the world'

The failure to allow more refugees into Britain from war-torn Syria is a "shocking neglect of duty", Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said last night.

After committing to admit up to 500 refugees, the Government has officially confirmed that only 50 have been able to come to this country. Britain's numbers are in stark contrast to other European countries, including Germany, where thousands of refugees from Syria have been accepted.

"The Government should be ashamed of its failure to support some of the most vulnerable people in the world," Ms Cooper said. "The UN has asked [ministers] to help a relatively small group of people who are facing unimaginable suffering in refugee camps. Instead, they seem to be dragging their feet. For the Government to turn its back on such desperation is a shocking neglect of duty and means other countries are left to pick up the pieces.

"Britain has a long and proud history of leading the world in humanitarian efforts and has rightly helped with aid in the region. But the Government is failing to meet its promise to do its bit to help those who are too vulnerable to stay in the camps and need refuge elsewhere.

"Under pressure from Parliament, Theresa May promised that Britain would help up to 500 refugees, alongside other countries who have also pledged to do their bit.... But while other European countries have taken thousands of refugees, it is shameful and heartless that Britain only offered sanctuary to 50."

In total more than three million Syrians have fled to Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq, which are in turn struggling to cope.

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