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Home Secretary to confirm that the UK is accepting Syrian refugees (29 January 2014)

Date: 29/01/2014
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, Home Secretary to confirm that the UK is accepting Syrian refugees

Britain is to take in Syrian refuges after the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg reportedly struck a deal with Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Cameron had previously said that the UK would provide aid to refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria, but would not be accepting refugees in the UK.

It is reported the UK will now take in some of the most vulnerable refugees, including women and children. No figure has been set for the number Britain will take in, but it is thought they will start arriving over the next year.

Home Secretary Theresa May has been working on a programme for accepting Syrian refugees and is expected to make an announcement today (29/01/14) before a debate tabled by Labour on Britain joining the sanctuary programme set up by United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Under the UN refugee programme, Western countries are asked to take 30,000 displaced people from Syria. David Cameron has so far not agreed to sign up to the programme, but pledged millions of pounds in aid to help Syrian refugees flee the conflict. Britain also vetoed taking military action against the Syrian government.

Responding to Mr Cameron’s change of heart over accepting Syrian refugees, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
“The coalition government wants to play our part in helping to alleviate the immense suffering in Syria. The £600 million we have provided makes us the second largest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid in the world.

"But as the conflict continues to force millions of Syrians from their homes, we need to make sure we are doing everything we can. Sadly, we cannot provide safety for everyone who needs it, but we can reach out to some of those who need it most."

Labour has welcomed the news that the UK will be playing its part in taking in refugees from Syria. Speaking to Sky News, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said that the influx of refugees from Syria must not replace refugees coming to the UK from other parts of the world, but must be in addition to these. She also called for ministers to explain why it had taken so long for a decision to be made on accepting refugees from Syria.

The government sets a target for the number of refugees allowed into the UK in accordance with its overall target for immigration. Labour is now calling for refugees to be removed from government immigration targets.

"Immigration policy is very different from Britain's long tradition of providing sanctuary for those fleeing persecution and the two things should not be confused,” she said.

"The dreadful conflict in Syria has caused a humanitarian crisis – as well as helping all those we can in the region, it is right that we also do our bit to provide the most desperate refugees with a place of safety."

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