Syrian Refugees at Christmas (December 2015)


I appreciate your concern with this issue. You might be aware that I was among a number of MPs who asked the Government to address this issue before the Prime Minister’s announcement that the UK would take 20,000 refugees.


Personally, it is to the young that I wish to focus my attention. I am particularly concerned that we ensure children receive an education whilst in these times of extreme uncertainty, within the camps. Additionally, for those children that have made this perilous journey alone we need to make sure that everyone across Europe is doing all they can to guarantee their safety.


The scale of the humanitarian crisis is clearly shocking. This is why we continue to be at the forefront of the international response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria - including as the second biggest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid, having already pledged £1 billion. Some £60 million of the additional funding will help Syrians who are still in Syria.


We will fulfil our moral responsibilities. That is why we have sent Royal Navy ships to the Mediterranean, saving thousands of lives; why we meet our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of our economy on aid; why Britain is the second biggest bilateral donor in the world to Syrian refugee camps.


Simply taking people is not a solution to this crisis. But we can do more. That is why I am glad that the Prime Minister has proposed that Britain should resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years. These refugees will come straight from the camps in the Middle East to discourage refugees from taking the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.


As you will know, the Vulnerable Persons Relocations scheme (VPRS) is already up and running, and has already welcomed some refugees to the UK. This scheme will make a real difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable by giving them protection and support in the UK. In addition, since the crisis began we have granted asylum to nearly 5,000 Syrians and their dependents through normal procedures.


With regard to the efforts of local authorities, to support our local communities we will use the foreign aid budget to finance these refugees for the first year and help local councils with things like housing. In the longer term, we will continue to direct our additional aid spending to these failed states and to the refugee crisis.


I am glad that the Prime Minister has been clear that the aim is to resettle 1,000 refugees by Christmas. Importantly the Government will have a reporting mechanism in place to assess how many refugees have been resettled.

December 2015