Lancashire praised for role in resettling Syrian refugees

Syrian asylum seekers and local residents held a Syrian People's Cafe at Marsh Community Centre in the summer.

Syrian asylum seekers and local residents held a Syrian People's Cafe at Marsh Community Centre in the summer.

The Government has thanked Lancashire’s local authorities for their role in supporting the resettlement of Syrian refugees across the UK.

It follows the publication of new government figures which show that the UK has resettled 4,162 Syrian refugees in the period up to September 2016 and is on track to meet its commitment of resettling 20,000 by 2020.

Lancashire has resettled 127 while the north west as a whole has now resettled 163 refugees under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPR) since last year.

More than 80 asylum seekers from Syria, Sudan, Kuwait, Iran and Iraq – men, women and children – have arrived in Lancaster in the last six months, and it is thought up to 300 could be housed in the city in the coming years.

They are part of the government’s asylum dispersal scheme run by Serco, which is separate from the refugee scheme.

Lancaster City Council cabinet decided the district wouldn’t take part in the government’s refugee programme until April 2017 and so refugee numbers are still under negotiation.

Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said: “The support of Lancashire and its local authorities has been paramount in helping us resettle so many vulnerable people who have fled conflict.

“The humanitarian crisis in Syria is unprecedented which is why we decided to undertake one of the largest resettlement schemes in the UK’s history.

“The hard work will continue throughout this Parliament as we provide those who have been traumatised and damaged by war with a safe environment and the chance to rebuild their lives.”

Lancashire has been housing Syrian refugees with support from central government, which fully funds the first year of resettlement using the overseas aid budget. The VRR scheme is voluntary, but so far 175 local authorities have offered places.

In September last year, the Government expanded the scheme to resettle 20,000 vulnerable Syrians by the end of this Parliament in 2020. It has already exceeded its target for the first year and has secured 20,000 pledges from local authorities across the UK.

As the resettlement scheme continues over the coming years, the emphasis is on supporting the integration of refugees.

In recognition of this, the Government has provided local authorities with an additional £10m in English language funding in order to help the Syrian families find work, gain independence and give back to the communities that welcomed them in.

In addition to resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees, the UK Government is the second largest donors in humanitarian assistance, pledging £2.3 billion in aid to Syria and the neighbouring countries.