Government’s inadequate response to the Syrian refugee crisis

In September 2015, amid widespread public outcry over the UK’s lack of a response to the Mediterranean refugee crisis, David Cameron’s Government agreed to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK by 2020 under the Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Relocation Scheme.

Yet, the latest Home Office figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request show that, in the two years to June 2016, just under 3,000 refugees have actually arrived in the UK. In other words, an average of less than 1,500 refugees are being resettled each year. This is far below the 4,000 per year necessary to reach the Government’s 20,000 goal. In other words, unless the number of refugees being resettled increases drastically, the Government’s pledge will be broken. Yet, seemingly in denial about the very real possibility of not fulfilling this promise, the Government remains adamant that it is on track to resettle 20,000 refugees by 2020.

However, there was a glimmer of hope in the form of Section 67 of the Immigration Act. Under the so-called “Dubs Amendment” the Government has the ability to relocate as many unaccompanied asylum seeking children as it sees fit; the exact number is, potentially, infinite. This afforded the Government another opportunity to lead the way in offering a comprehensive, substantive and compassionate response to the crisis. Yet, the most recent figures suggest that just 750 children have been resettled in the UK; a far cry from the 3,000 figure stipulated in the original amendment, and contrary to the spirit in which the amendment was passed in the House of Lords. Lord Dubs himself has called it a ‘betrayal’.

This response seems even more woeful when set against a backdrop of continued conflict in the Syria. In some parts of the country the most recent ceasefire is not holding. Yesterday reports emerged that the 100,000 trapped in the besieges villages of Wadi Barada have suffered 19 days of continuous airstrikes at the hands of Hezbollah and the Assad regime.

However, British forces have the capacity to provide substantive humanitarian aid to the besieged areas via airdrop. Wadi Barada’s proximity to the Lebanese border means it is possible to use JPADS parachute to remotely guide aid packages into besieged Syrian areas from the safety of Lebanese airspace. However, this is a concept Government officials have repeatedly rejected.

Yet, if the British Government is not willing to conduct airdrops they must find an alternative means of doing their part to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis; accepting child refugees is a good place to start.

Finally, the United Kingdom is a modern, developed country which has the capacity to do more to help those suffering in this crisis. All is required, is more political will power. Indeed, nothing condemns us more than a lack of vision, determination and outright compassion.

* Bradley Albrow is a researcher for Lord Roger Roberts

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This entry was posted in News.


  • David Evershed 12th Jan '17 - 9:20am

    Russia is in control of Syria.

    Remarks about providing humanitarian aid should be addressed to Russia.

    Not a good idea to start a war with Russia over control in Syria.

  • ‘inadequate’ is a very small word for one of the most shaming periods of British history. Millions of refugees have been forced out of their homes. They’re cold. They’re hungry and they need help. And all you hear from Britain is that it’s someone else’s problem, or they’re economic migrants.

    It makes me very sad and very angry that we have so many comfortable people in this country who won’t lift a finger to help anyone and a government that follows their lead.

  • Katerina Porter 13th Jan '17 - 12:11pm

    The Home Office (and under Mrs May) has deliberately avoided doing anything except when there is an impossible situation. After the Dubs Amendment local authorities tried to get a response from the Home Office in order to plan. The Home Office did not respond till the Friday before the Monday the (exasperated?) French would start demolishing the Calais Jungle. Even then apparently they were dragging their feet with the processing. In international law there is provision for families to be reunited and there were children with families in Britain who were still left.
    This is equivalent to the way we have treated our interpreters in Iraq etc who were are at risk for their lives. And will we be able to find people to work for us when these situations recur as they surely will? After the War Romanians who had worked for us were arrested by the post war Communist government, imprisoned and tortured. When they were released they were given British citizenship, back pay, pension rights and offers of jobs.
    Those surely were the British values we talk about.

  • The Lib Dems now have an excellent opportunity to bring this issue to the fore by campaigning hard in Copeland for a substantial number of Syrian refugees to be brought to Cumbria. At the moment there literally isn’t a single refugee or asylum seeker anywhere in the entire county, even the Lib Dem stronghold of South Lakeland.

    After much dawdling, the county is supposed to be letting a handful in in the spring – but it’s far too little, extremely late in the day.

  • @ Bradley Albrow: Your article suggests you might not know what or where Wadi Barada is, and why the Syrian regime and its allies have launched an offensive on it within the past 3 weeks.
    It is in the western Damascus countryside, near the Qualamoun mountains, and is a major water supply to millions of civilians in Damascus (where there are also many vulnerable refugees)
    A month ago, the “rebels” who control this area, polluted this key water supply before cutting it off.
    Hence the Syrian Govt has taken action to secure this supply.
    This includes the Syrian govt putting pressure to broker mutually acceptable peace terms, like the “rebels” to not disrupt Damascus’s water supply!)
    But the BBC (and so the Guardian, Times etc) hasn’t reported this reason.
    Please understand that the news sources you probably exclusively rely upon (like much of our political establishment, to be fair) are not impartial on the Syrian conflict.

    @ Katerina Porter: Like this article’s author, your comment assumes that most Syrian refugees want to permanently settle in the UK.
    But most Syrian refugees are fleeing conflict, like civilians in the 1990s wars in former Yugoslavia.
    The UK govt’s approach failure to let Syrian refugees have shelter is a disgrace, but it’s partly caused by this misplaced belief that all want to settle here permanently. Other European countries like Germany, Sweden, and Holland recognise the need to offer sanctuary and work for the refugees and that many (like former Yugoslavs in the 1990s) will want to return to a stable and peaceful Syria.
    If we all put pressure on the UK govt to recognise this distinction, it may actually really help refugees have sanctuary and live more normal lives, that work constructively towards them having the opportunity to return in the longer term – instead of moral grandstanding by vilifying the Syrian regime’s attempts to pacify its broken country.

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