UK government to work with UNHCR on refugee resettlement

21 Sep 15

The UK government has announced an agreement to supply resources and expertise to the UN’s refugee agency to speed up resettlement of Syrian refugees.

The Department for International Development said that the government’s pledge to take in an extra 20,000 Syrian refugees would need a significant scaling up of the Syrian Vulnerable Person Relocation scheme. The scheme, operated in conjunction with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was set up last year to identify those who most needed help and bring them to the UK, including women and children at risk, survivors of torture and violence and those in severe need of medical care.

UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening said the government had offered resources to boost the agency’s local teams to make sure they have additional capacity to carry out their work.

Greening added that the government had given more than £1bn in aid for food, shelter, education and health services for people caught up in the Syria conflict over the last four years. She said the department would use its expertise to speed up resettlement of 20,000 of the most vulnerable refugees from the region.

“By taking refugees directly from camps in the region we are ensuring that we reach the most vulnerable, while our aid continues to support others to stay in the region rather than make the perilous journey to Europe,” Greening said.

Richard Harrington, UK government minister for Syrian refugees, added: “As the UK prepares to welcome the first arrivals under our expanded Syrian refugee scheme, I am driving forward intensive work to ensure these individuals have all the support they need.

“The scale of the expansion needs careful and meticulous planning to ensure we get it right. This week I chaired a meeting of more than 20 NGOs and partner organisations, who are all focused on working with us to find ways to support these refugees.”

Greening has spoken to the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, about possible requirements, and wider discussions with the UNHCR on the type and scale of resources needed were ongoing. This is expected to include technical experts and support from DFID staff, including those specialising in protecting children or other vulnerable groups.

The government has confirmed it will use foreign aid funding to support Syrian refugees taken in by the UK for the first year to meet housing and other costs faced by local authorities.


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