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UK to settle some Syrian refugees, says government

Source: Reuters - Thu, 30 Jan 2014 09:30 AM
Author: Reuters
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The UK government has decided that some of the "most vulnerable" Syrian refugees will be allowed to settle in the UK temporarily.

Torture victims, the elderly, the disabled and women and girls at risk of sexual violence will get priority.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) THERESA MAY, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY, SAYING:

"Following consultations with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in London in recent days, I can tell the House that the government will be launching a new programme to provide emergency sanctuary in the UK for displaced Syrians who are particularly vulnerable. This programme, the Vulnerable Person Relocation Scheme will be based on three principles. First, we are determined to ensure that our assistance is targeted where it can have the most impact on the refugees at greatest risk. The programme will focus on individual cases where evacuation from the region is the only option. In particular we will prioritise help for survivors of torture and violence, and women and children at risk or in need of medical care who are recommended to us for relocation by UNHCR. This is where we believe we can make a distinctive contribution as the United Kingdom."

The government expects the number of refugees accepted to be in the hundreds, but has not set a specific target.

But critics say the UK should be working with the UN rather than setting up a "parallel programme".

Others argue that countries not making such a big contribution to the aid effort should be taking in more refugees.

While the debate continues concern grows for the millions of Syrians who have been displaced in Syria's three year conflict.

With damaged homes, few possessions and scant food, the UN says more than nine million Syrians, about half of Syria's population, are in urgent need of aid.

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