In today’s blog post we will be commenting on the recent decision by the U.K Government to accept a greater amount of refugees who are living in U.N camps from Syria, Jordan and Turkey. In addition to this, we will compare and examine this figure with that of other European countries.
This week the U.K government pledged to increase the number of Syrian refugees that it will accept to 20,000 over the next five years. Supporters have praised this step for a) increasing the number of refugees accepted into Britain and b) accepting refugees directly from U.N aid camps that will in turn (hopefully) discourage the dangerous journey they face in order to arrive in Europe.
Under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, which will be extended, those who are brought to the U.K are granted Humanitarian Protection, a status usually given to those who face a serious threat to their lives if they return to their country of origin. Under the VPRS, refugees can stay in the U.K for 5 years, have the right to work and have access to public funds. After 5 years they can apply for leave to remain in the U.K.
However, with Germany accepting 800,000 refugees this year and France accepting 24,000 in the next two years, critics have argued that this figure is insufficient and that more direct action needs to be taken. Since 2011, 4,980 Syrian refugees have been given asylum in the U.K and in the year ending June 2015 25,771 applications for asylum were made in the United Kingdom with roughly over half being granted.
However, in terms of foreign aid donated, the U.K ranks first in the E.U and second only to the United States globally. It is believed that the current government feels that foreign aid is the best measure to stabilise and aid these regions where many of the refugees are from. With the migrant crisis dominating headlines over recent weeks, public opinion may be a factor in the Government’s decision to bring more refugees to the United Kingdom. Interestingly, in a recent Yougov poll 51% of the Public said that the U.K should not increase the number of refugees with slightly over a third, 36%, saying they should.
The latest developments in the ongoing migrant crisis suggest that Europe remains divided on the issue. Headlines have been dominated by images of refugees boarding trains in Hungary, walking across Europe and, of course, the tragic images of those who have lost their lives at sea.
What is important to remember is the severity of the situation. Those who are undertaking such desperate journeys are often fleeing persecution and looking for safe refuge. European Governments are under pressure both domestically and from within the continent to control migration and the crisis calls into question the foundations of liberal democracy that many European countries are based on. Whether or not the U.K will raise the quota of refugees that it accepts remains unclear, however what does remain clear is that this latest wave of immigration does not look likely to slow down for the time being.
Should the U.K do more to assist refugees? Do we have a moral responsibility to do so? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.
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