Home Secretary confirms that the UK will provide emergency aid to Syrian refugees
Home secretary Theresa May confirmed the Syrian refugee programme in a House of Commons debate on Wednesday. The UK will provide emergency aid to the most vulnerable Syrian refugees.
May said: “The government will be launching a new programme to provide emergency sanctuary in the UK for displaced Syrians who are particularly vulnerable.”
The government will target refugees who are at greatest risk, prioritising help for survivors of torture and violence and women and children at risk or in need of medical care.
“Since the crisis began we have taken in nearly 3 500 Syrian asylum seekers, the fourth highest number in the European Union,” May told MPs.
However, May admitted “the only way for the violence and suffering to end is with the negotiated political transition and the government will spare no effort in working to find a peaceful solution to the crisis that will allow refugees to return home.”
For Labour, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper supported the decision. “We can come together with cross-party support for helping the most vulnerable,” she said, adding: “Compassion and common sense have prevailed over the government’s resistance last week.”
The government had faced criticism for previously declining to participate in the UN’s programme for Syrian refugees.
Cooper said: “The Home Secretary has bowed to the pressure before the opposition day debate…it is a reversal of her decision last week but she is right to have listened and I am glad that she has done so.”
The government have not yet set a figure to the number of refugees expected in the UK, as they want to “look at particular needs”, however they expect there to be “several hundred refugees” coming to the UK, according to May.
More than 2.3 million Syrians have fled the country and the refugee population could reach over 4 million by the end of 2014.
More than 85 000 Syrians are taking refuge in Za’atari, Jordan, the second-largest refugee camp in the world.