Asylum Seekers (Syria)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 6 July 2015.

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Photo of Owen Thompson Owen Thompson SNP Whip 2:30, 6 July 2015

How many people from Syria have been (a) granted and (b) declined asylum in the last four years.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

Since the Syrian crisis began in 2011, the UK has received more than 6,800 Syrian asylum claims and granted asylum or other forms of leave to more than 4,200 Syrians.

Photo of Owen Thompson Owen Thompson SNP Whip

Given that Lebanon is currently accommodating a Syrian refugee population of somewhere near a quarter of its entire population, does the Minister agree that the international community, including the UK, needs to provide far more places for resettlement, and other opportunities such as flexible family reunion places, to relieve Syria’s neighbours of some of the responsibility they are struggling to cope with?

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

Given the numbers and the scale of the challenge, the focus should be on regional aid in the areas affected. That is why the International Development Secretary has committed another £100 million to assist in tackling the Syrian crisis, with the total reaching £900 million. We are focused on the most vulnerable individuals, which is why we have been operating the vulnerable persons relocation scheme.

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Conservative, Harborough

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the problem of people coming from Syria is reflected in the people leaving here to go to Syria? Will he have discussions with his fellow Ministers to ensure that the extremism Bill deals with youngsters and other vulnerable people being taken away from this country to Syria, so that they can be protected before that happens?

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

My right hon. and learned Friend makes an important point about the way in which people can be radicalised, and about how they can be vulnerable and exploited in that way. The new Prevent duty has been introduced precisely to ensure that all governmental agencies are focused on those issues to prevent such travel.

Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Chair, Home Affairs Committee, Chair, Home Affairs Committee

To make an application in the United Kingdom many Syrian refugees face death by crossing the Mediterranean or, as I witnessed at the weekend, by running into the channel tunnel or jumping on speeding lorries in Calais. This is an EU problem. What is to be done about processing some of those applications on the north African shelf so that people are able to make their applications without risking death?

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his reappointment as Chair of the Home Affairs Committee. I look forward to appearing before the Committee, no doubt before too long.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

There we are!

The right hon. Gentleman makes a serious point about the flow of people across the Mediterranean, which is why we have been clear about breaking that link of people thinking that they can get on to vessels and make that perilous journey northwards to the EU. I know that he has made interesting and important comments on this issue, but we must be clear not to establish new legal routes into the EU as that may make matters more difficult. I look forward to appearing before his Committee and giving further evidence.