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Government extends refugee resettlement scheme to non-Syrians

2 min read

The Government has broadened its criteria for resettling refugees to include non-Syrians fleeing the conflict between the Assad regime, opposition groups and so-called Islamic State. 

The programme will cover different nationalities following advice from the United Nations’ refugee agency, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced today.

“I am amending the scope of the Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) to enable UNHCR to refer the most vulnerable refugees in the MENA [Middle East and North Africa] region who have fled the Syrian conflict and cannot safely return to their country of origin, whatever their nationality,” Ms Rudd said in a written ministerial statement.

“This Government is committed to an effective response in the affected regions and to resettling the most vulnerable; this includes those who had sought refuge within Syria prior to the conflict and been recognised as refugees.

“We will continue to rely on UNHCR to identify and refer the most vulnerable refugees but will no longer limit the scheme solely to those with Syrian nationality. UNHCR will only refer to us those who are genuine refugees, in that they cannot seek the protection of their home country.

“This change will also mean that mixed family groups are eligible for resettlement under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. This change might also open up the Scheme to other groups, such as Iraqi minorities who sought refuge in Syria, but had to flee again as a result of the Syria conflict.”

Ms Rudd also revealed that so far 7,307 Syrians had been resettled in the UK through the VPRS, half of whom are children.

In 2015, the Government said it would bring in 20,000 refugees under the programme by 2020 and the Home Secretary said it was still on track to meet that target.

Earlier this year, Ms Rudd came under fire for closing a separate route to the UK for child refugees who have already made the journey to Europe.

The Home Office announced the end of the so-called Dubs Scheme, after it brought in 480 under-18s from the continent. 

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