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Resettlement of Vulnerable Syrian Refugees

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:39 pm on 10th December 2014.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 12:39 pm, 10th December 2014

The shadow Home Secretary is right to underline the significance of the issues faced in Syria and of the millions of people displaced by that horrific conflict. As I said, it is right that we focus our efforts on seeking to bring an end to the conflict as well as on providing direct assistance in the most effective way to those who have been affected and displaced. That is precisely what the Government are doing and the UK can be proud of our record in seeking to provide that direct assistance to those most in need as a consequence of the conflict.

The right hon. Lady suggested that the vulnerable persons relocation scheme was in some way not working and not fulfilling its intentions, but I entirely reject that. The VPR scheme is already providing direct help for people fleeing persecution and for those most in need of help, medical or otherwise. I congratulate the local authorities that are supporting the scheme and providing such direct assistance. To reflect one of her other points, I would certainly encourage more local authorities to come on board and be part of the scheme to ensure that those arriving in this country are able to receive the support and assistance that they need to be able to settle well and effectively in the UK.

The right hon. Lady made a point that was not worthy of our proceedings when she suggested that our decisions are in some way being clouded by a focus on net migration figures. That is absolutely not the case. Our country can be proud of the work that we are doing in providing this direct assistance under the vulnerable persons relocation scheme which, as I said, has provided asylum to 3,400 people from Syria who have been fleeing the conflict. I therefore entirely reject her assertion.

The right hon. Lady highlighted the need to ensure that support is provided to children and women in need. Through our work via the Department for International Development and our aid programmes, the UK has allocated £82 million to provide protection, trauma care and education for children affected by the crisis in Syria and the wider region, recognising their vulnerability and the need to ensure that assistance is provided directly.

The right hon. Lady referred to the contribution of several countries in seeking to take in refugees from Syria. Each country provides assistance in its own different manner. Given the £700 million that the UK is providing to support millions of people in the region directly and immediately, and the asylum that is being provided to Syrians fleeing persecution through the vulnerable persons relocation scheme, this country should be proud of the role it is playing in providing help and assistance to those most in need. This is an ongoing crisis and tragedy, which is why we are providing direct assistance and aid, and we would certainly encourage others to do so. Focusing on humanitarian assistance and on bringing an end to the conflict will provide the most direct help.