In our communities in Hastings and Rye we can be proud of our commitment to support some of the world’s most vulnerable.
I am pleased to say that we will welcome one hundred Syrian refugees to Hastings and forty to Rother as part of the UK’s pledge to resettle 20,000 Syrians by 2020. We will provide them with the help, the support and the shelter they need, away from the violence and the suffering they have experienced.
Across our region, individuals and faith and community groups are coming together to support the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme, and to provide assistance to those it is seeking to help. East Sussex Community and Faith Action For Vulnerable Syrian Families is working to find suitable housing and accommodation, to provide English language lessons and to help ensure that these refugees integrate into our local community. In Hastings and Rother, the Links Project offers a range of services to improve quality of life for asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and wider BME communities.
This action at a local level, through councils, community groups and individuals, is invaluable and it exemplifies the best of British values and our country’s fine record of helping the most vulnerable.
This is a tradition that this Government is committed to upholding.
The violence and the horrors of the Syrian conflict have led to the defining humanitarian crisis of our time. It is absolutely right that the UK has stepped up to meet this challenge: we have pledged £2.3 billion in aid – our largest ever humanitarian response to a single crisis – and, in addition to 20,000 Syrians, we will resettle 3,000 children and their families from the wider region.
Taking refugees from the region is the correct thing to do. These are the people whose need for our help is greatest. This approach also seeks to tackle the scourge of human trafficking which has done so much to exploit and to exacerbate the tragedy of the crisis. By resettling people straight from camps in Jordan and Lebanon we will take away the incentive to make perilous journeys across land and sea towards the UK in the hands of criminals. According to EU figures, in 2016 the UK resettled the highest number of refugees of any EU country.
Prioritising the most vulnerable is at the heart of the Government’s efforts.
In the last year, asylum or another form of leave was granted to over 8,000 children, and around half of the 4,400 people who have been resettled so far through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme have been children. In addition, we transferred to the UK more than 900 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from within Europe in 2016. Additionally, based on consultation with local authorities across the country, the UK will also resettle 150 unaccompanied child refugees in accordance with section 67 of the Immigration Act, in addition to the 200 who have already been transferred under this legislation.
Further to these resettlements, local authorities which still have capacity to resettle and support some of the thousands of unaccompanied asylum seeking children who arrive in Britain every year can participate in the National Transfer Scheme.
In the face of the scale and depth of the suffering of the Syrian crisis the UK is making sure that the most vulnerable receive the support they need. Government, councils, community organisations and individuals are all playing their part to ensure the UK meets its commitment to provide aid and help to refugees. A commitment we will continue to keep for years to come.