More than 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Britain in the past year, it has been revealed.
Figures from Home Office show that 4,162 people were relocated under the program by the end of September. Before leaving Downing Street, David Cameron made a pledge to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees over a five-year period. These refugees are coming from camps in countries bordering Syria.
Stephen Hale, chief executive of Refugee Action, calls the Syrian refugee crisis “the worst” in more than 60 years and says: “It’s great to see this pledge is becoming a reality as communities all over the country are choosing to welcome refugees to their areas.”
Under the initiative refugees have been resettled across 175 different local authorities with Coventry receiving the highest number of people.
Dr. Jeff Crisp from Refugee Studies Centre Oxford, former Head of UNHCR’s Policy Development, currently an Associate fellow in International Law at Chatham House, says he isn’t surprised that Coventry is leading in taking refugees as “Coventry has a very long record of welcoming refugees”.
“The actual distribution of them around the country is not exactly clear because the program is relied on a voluntary scheme of organisations and individuals”, he adds.
He has no doubts that the UK will meet its goal of accepting 20,000 refugees before the end of 2020: “It started off quite slowly, but with a period of 5 year program, it can be reached: only 4 or 5 thousand per year, which the country of the size of the Uk should absorb quite easily. The Canadian government is taking 20 000 refugees just in the matter of three or four months, so it demonstrates that it shouldn’t be a problem for the UK.”
Dr. Crisp comments the data that half of the arrivals are under 18, and almost the same proportions constitute women: “Initially, when the announcement was made, it has been said that the priority would be given to women and children. Of course, part of the reason for that is the concern that young men from Syria can be associated with the terrorist groups somehow.”
For Dr. Jeff Crisp, refugees integration is actually the key question: “There’s a lot of focus on whether the UK is taking enough people, but I’d say that it’s better to get it right with a small number of people, than to get it wrong with a larger number of people. It’s also not a particularly good time for people to come to Britain no, after Brexit. Post-Brexit attitudes could be hostile towards foreign people. Secondly, it seems that it the economy is going to perform not so well as a result of Brexit negotiations. At the time of austerity and cuts, we can’t be sure that all the possible measures are taken.”