UK

Syrian refugee places for 20,000 'secured' in UK

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Media captionSyrian refugees thank the local community on Bute for the warm welcome they have received

Enough local authority places to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next four years have now been secured, the home secretary has said.

Amber Rudd said the UK was on track to deliver the promise made by former PM David Cameron to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.

A total of £10m has also been pledged for language tuition to help refugees integrate, the Home Office said.

So far about 2,800 Syrians have arrived in the UK, latest figures suggest.

'Immense goodwill'

The fighting between Syrian government forces, opposition rebel groups and so-called Islamic State militants has caused 4.5 million Syrians to flee their homes, according to the UN refugee agency.

"Securing the 20,000 pledges within 12 months is testament to the immense goodwill and generosity of the British people and the effort and determination of local authorities across the UK.

"We are on track and delivering our commitment to help the most vulnerable Syrians displaced by the conflict," Ms Rudd said.

The additional funding for English language training will mean all adults arriving through the scheme will receive an extra 12 hours a week of tuition, for up to six months, the Home Office said.

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Media captionSyrian refugees on settling into life in Scotland

Under the government's Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme the government will pay £8,500 per refugee in the first year towards housing, healthcare and other costs - but this figure tapers down to £1,000 by the fifth year.

The charity Refugee Action has welcomed Ms Rudd's comments but the UK "must go further and faster", said its chief executive, Stephen Hale.

"The devastating war in Syria continues. The government should go beyond the commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrians made one year ago."

But he added: "Whether we bring one or 100,000 we've got to do the best for those people.

"We've got to integrate them to help them rebuild their lives. In our long experience of supporting refugees from many different countries the critical issue is their ability to speak English.

"If you can learn English you can speak to your neighbour, you can speak to your GP, you can get into the job market. There has been huge frustration from refugees from many countries that there is a shortage of English language classes. They all, whatever nationality they are, want to learn English."


How is the UK helping?

  • Under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, the UK will accommodate 20,000 Syrian refugees
  • Refugees are being allowed to stay for five years, after which they can apply to settle in the UK
  • About £1.1bn of UK money is being used to fund humanitarian aid programmes in and around Syria
  • Charities, including the British Red Cross and Oxfam, are running appeals
  • Read more here

A spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents more than 300 councils in England and Wales, said the focus must now be on ensuring Syrian families are matched to the right placements.

"Councils will be helping to support some of the most vulnerable families fleeing Syria who will need ongoing support from health and social care services to cope with injuries, disabilities and to recover from the severe trauma they have experienced," he said.

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