The duty we all have in helping ease the world’s refugee crisis

From House to Home with Amber Rudd SUS-151103-114637001
From House to Home with Amber Rudd SUS-151103-114637001

The current mass migration of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria is one of the greatest challenges the international community will confront this decade – indeed, it is the largest movement of refugees since the Second World War.

Therefore, I am not surprised that many of you have written to me about your concerns on this issue.

As the Prime Minister said last week, we have seen a vast increase in the number of refugees journeying across the Eastern Mediterranean –the majority of these are Syrians, terrorised by Assad and ISIL - more than 11 million people have been driven from their homes and, so far, more than 2,600 are known to have died this year crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.

The stories we have heard and the pictures we have seen have been heart-breaking. No one could fail to be deeply moved by such human tragedy.

We have a moral responsibility to help these refugees. That is why the Government deployed vessels of the Royal Navy to the Mediterranean, saving thousands of lives, and why it ensured that the UK is the second biggest bilateral aid donor in the world in response to the Syrian crisis.

I welcomed the news, announced by the Prime Minister, that we will commit a further £100 million in aid - this will take our total contribution to over £1 billion.

We must also continue to use our aid budget to alleviate poverty and suffering in the countries where these refugees are coming from.

The UK is the only major country in the world which has kept its promise to the world’s poorest to spend 0.7% of our GDP on aid. Our support has delivered over 18 million food rations (each ration supplying enough food for one person for a month), and has provided access to clean water for 1.6 million people.

Of course, we can, we must and we will do more in response to the tragic scenes we are witnessing across the Mediterranean.

The answer is not to put up barriers but to provide refugees with a safe haven in our communities, who will also benefit from their arrival.

That is why this Government announced that it will expand our existing Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, in order to resettle up to 20,000 additional Syrians in need of protection over this parliamentary term.

This will allow vulnerable people to be taken from a temporary place of refuge, such as a refugee camp in the region, and, with the support of the UN Refugee Agency, to be resettled in the UK to offer protection while it is required.

Hastings and Rye has always welcomed different nationalities and, over the coming months, our local authorities will be working with central Government and the Local Government Authority on how they can house and support Syrian refugees.

Additionally, if you would like to help or house any refugees, more information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/syria-refugees-what-you-can-do-to-help--2

We also need a comprehensive solution to deal with those most responsible for the thousands of deaths at sea; we must boost our efforts to detect and disrupt the smuggling gangs and we must identify what more can be done to stop people being exploited by these traffickers in the first place.

We should be proud of the support we offer to vulnerable refugees in their time of greatest need.

The Prime Minister and this Government will continue to work with our partners in the European Union to deliver a compassionate approach to the refugees and a comprehensive response to the criminals, who trade on fear and the weak, and who have done so much to deepen the tragedy of this crisis.