UK to resettle vulnerable Syrian refugees

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The UK government has announced its plans to begin the temporary resettlement of the "most vulnerable" Syrian refugees, which by its definition includes: women and children, elderly and disabled people and those who have been victims of torture or sexual violence. Those resettled are to receive three-year visas, specialist support where necessary and access to jobs.

The number of people granted this assistance is expected to be low - in the hundreds - compared with a total of 2.3 million Syrian refugees. For those involved, however, it represents a lifeline and hope for a better future.

The UK's financial support for the Syrian crisis has become its largest ever response to a humanitarian emergency, with £600 million pledged to date, over half of which is in support of the regional response.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has welcomed the decision, which came after substantial pressure from civil society groups and Parliamentarians across all political parties. Roland Schilling, UNHCR's representative to the UK, said:

This decision will help to provide much needed solutions for vulnerable Syrian refugees many of whom have been deeply traumatised and face immense hardship. It is also a concrete and important gesture of solidarity and burden sharing with the countries neighbouring Syria as they continue to bear the brunt of the refugee crisis.

It should be noted that the UK's plan will remain separate to UNHCR's scheme, which is seeking to resettle 30,000 Syrian refugees across 10 participating countries in Europe. Germany, the only EU state to feature in the global top 10 of refugee hosting countries, has offered to resettle up to 10,000.

The crisis in numbers

  • 869,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon
  • 600,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan
  • 582,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey
  • 213,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq
  • 132,000 Syrian refugees in Egypt
  • 6.5 million people displaced inside Syria
  • 9.3 million people in Syria, nearly half the population, in need of humanitarian assistance
  • $2.3 billion required for the humanitarian assistance inside Syria
  • $4.2 billion required for the regional humanitarian response

Source: UN Refugee Agency & UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Photo: © UN Photo/Mark Garten. A woman and child at Za’atri refugee camp, near Mafraq, Jordan.

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