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David Cameron: 1,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in UK

Published 16/12/2015

British warplanes have not hit IS in Syria since December 6
British warplanes have not hit IS in Syria since December 6

The first 1,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the UK, David Cameron has confirmed.

The Prime Minister told MPs that Britain is "doing its moral duty" in funding refugee camps and he had met his commitment to resettle 1,000 people fleeing the war-torn country by Christmas.

"I said that Britain would do its duty and with these thousand we have made a very good start," he told the Commons at Prime Minister's Questions.

He said: "I made a promise that we would resettle 1,000 by Christmas and I can confirm today that we have met our commitment to resettle 1 ,000 refugees by Christmas.

"The charter flights that arrived yesterday at Stansted and Belfast mean that over 1,000 have been settled. Another charter flight is coming today."

He said the Government was providing funding so the refugees get access to housing, healthcare and education.

The Prime Minister announced in September that up to 20,000 vulnerable Syrians would be resettled in the UK over the next five years.

Groups of refugees have been arriving in the UK over the last three months and m ore than 50 local authorities from across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have taken a share of the 1,000 refugees resettled.

Alongside the vulnerable person resettlement scheme, the UK has also granted asylum or another form of protection through normal processes to 1,868 Syrians in the year ending September 2015.

The UK has committed more than £1.1 billion in aid for the region and Mr Cameron said: "Britain is doing its moral duty in terms of funding the refugees and the refugee camps."

London will host a donors conference in February "bringing the world together so there is more funding in future and that's going to be absolutely vital".

The Refugee Council's head of advocacy Lisa Doyle welcomed confirmation that the first 1,000 vulnerable Syrians had arrived but called on Mr Cameron to also help resettle those who had risked the trip to Europe.

She said: "It's great to hear that the first 1,000 Syrian refugees have taken their first steps into their new lives in safety. Each Syrian refugee welcomed by the UK will have their life transformed, if not saved, by this programme.

"What we now need to see is the same eagerness to welcome refugees shown by communities across the country reflected by Government policies: resettling Syrian refugees is a great first step but Britain also needs to come forward and offer to help refugees arriving in Europe a route to safety too."

David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association's asylum, migration and refugee task group, said: "Councils have an excellent track record in supporting refugee children and their families over many years and have worked hard to ensure 1,000 Syrian refugees are settled safely in the UK before Christmas."

He said council leaders and staff had worked with the Home Office and the UN's refugee agency to make sure the Syrians had the correct support, including accommodation and school places.

"Councils are 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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