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Government asked to explain small number of Syrian refugee arrivals

The Government will be asked to explain its poor track record in resettling Syrian refugees at a special Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday 16 July 2.30-4.



The debate has been tabled by Chair of the APPG on Refugees, Sarah Teather MP following the recent revelation that since the Government announced it was setting up a special scheme to resettle refugees from Syria in January, just 50 people have arrived.



The Refugee Council, the main organisation working with refugees and asylum seekers in the UK,

is disappointed by the figures and is calling on the Government to go the extra mile to help more people reach safety.



Since announcing its Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme for Syrian refugees, the UK Government has been reluctant to say how many refugees it plans to resettle, insisting it will respond on a ‘needs basis’.  Ministers have since admitted the Government only expects to resettle ‘a few hundred’ people over a three year period.



There are now 2.9 million Syrian refugees, more than a million of whom are children. Over 100,000 new refugees are being registered every month.  The UN has increased its call for governments around the world to help ease the strain on Syria’s neighbouring countries by providing 130,000 resettlement places by 2016.



In response, other countries increased the numbers of places they are pledging, with Austria increasing the number of places it is offering to 1,500 and Germany doubling its offer to 20,000 places.



The Refugee Council wants the UK to follow other countries’ leads and respond boldly and ambitiously to the UN’s call as the crisis in Syria and the surrounding region deepens.



Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said: “In January, the Government promised to offer some of Syria’s refugees the chance to rebuild their lives in safety in Britain.  It promised a flexible resettlement scheme which would offer life changing places on a needs basis.  It promised to stand shoulder to shoulder with Syria’s neighbouring countries and help people reach safety in the UK.



“If David Cameron is to keep these promises then his government needs to urgently address the scale of its ambition. When countries like Lebanon are buckling under the strain; offering a few hundred places isn’t a tenable response for a world leader.”



The debate comes just days after UNHCR called on European Governments to do more to help Syrian refugees.