Humanitarian Crisis in the Mediterranean and Europe

Part of Opposition Day — [6th allotted day] – in the House of Commons at 6:42 pm on 9th September 2015.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 6:42 pm, 9th September 2015

My hon. Friend makes an important point. We are working at a number of levels to create stability in Libya, which will be a key part of the solution to the problem of these flows across the Mediterranean.

The UK has a strong history of protecting those who flee persecution. We granted asylum to about 12,000 refugees last year alone and have resettled from overseas more than 6,300 refugees over the past 10 years in direct co-operation with the UNHRC under our gateway programme. We have granted asylum to more than 5,000 Syrians since the start of the humanitarian crisis. That is in addition to providing protection to people under the UK’s Syrian vulnerable persons relocation scheme, which was launched in January 2014. That scheme has made a life-changing and potentially life-saving difference to hundreds of the most vulnerable refugees, including women who have been subject to abuse, children traumatised by war and those in need of specific medical assistance. Again, that scheme will be extended after the Prime Minister’s announcement earlier this week.

The Government have made clear their view on the relocation of asylum seekers within the EU on many occasions. We think that it is the wrong response and will not take part in a mechanism for relocation within the EU, whether temporary or permanent. We judge that criticism of this decision misses the point. All member states in the EU have a duty, both moral and legal, to provide refuge to those who need it and to provide the support that those people require. Many member states have not done that and it is time that they stepped up to the plate.

On the issue of notification raised in the motion, the Government will keep the House fully updated on this issue. The Home Secretary is due to provide a detailed update next week, and through our transparency agenda we have committed to providing quarterly data on the vulnerable persons relocation scheme. We see no reason therefore formally to lay a report—