Refugee Action and the Refugee Council are calling on the Government to make a new commitment on the future of resettlement in Britain and expand its successful Syrian programme.
Any gap between the current scheme and what comes next would jeopardise the local support structures put in place to enable refugees to rebuild their lives. This would be costly and increase barriers to integration.
Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics show the Government is on track to meet its pledge to resettle 20,000 refugees affected by the conflict in Syria by 2020.
Nearly 11,400 refugees have now been welcomed through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) since its expansion in 2015.
In the year to March 2018, a total of 5,760 refugees were resettled in Britain, including 4,342 through the VPRS, 632 through the Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme and 768 through the Gateway programme. This shows a slight decrease of 9% on the total number resettled in the previous year.
The charities are jointly backing UNHCR’s call for refugee resettlement to be expanded to welcome at least 10,000 people affected by global conflicts and persecution each year through one consolidated programme.
Stephen Hale, Chief Executive of Refugee Action, said:
“Uncertainty over resettlement post-2020 is jeopardising the success of future schemes.
“The Syrian programme has huge public support, with communities across the country choosing to welcome refugees to their areas. Its success shows we can and should do more.
“But the agencies involved in providing this transformative work need a new commitment to its future.
“Welcoming at least 10,000 refugees each year, regardless of which emergency they’ve fled and giving them equal support to rebuild their lives, would far better reflect the contribution we should be making.”
Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said:
“The Government can quite rightly be proud of what’s been achieved with resettlement in the UK. Every day we see its truly transformative impact on people who have survived unimaginably difficult situations and are given the vital chance to rebuild their lives in safety.
“But as millions of people remain displaced worldwide, the need for resettlement remains urgent. We urge the Government to build on this great success by establishing an ambitious and well resourced resettlement programme from 2020 that responds effectively to global conflicts. Global leadership in this area is essential and we urge the Government to provide it.”
For more information and interviews call 07771748159 or email JennaP@refugee-action.org.uk.