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Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Volume 636: debated on Monday 26 February 2018

The level of support provided to refugees and asylum seekers will vary depending on their status in the UK and the route that they were granted. Last week in Lebanon, I heard first hand how important our resettlement scheme is and how it helps individuals and families fleeing danger and conflict to rebuild their lives.

I thank the Home Secretary for that answer, but a recent report from Refugee Rights Europe showed that two thirds of asylum seekers feel unsafe or very unsafe in their accommodation. At my surgery on Friday, I met a Malawian constituent who showed me photographs of her accommodation, which is simply unacceptable. Will the Home Secretary agree to meet me to discuss not just my constituent’s case, but that recent report by Refugee Rights Europe?

We are committed to ensuring that all asylum seekers are kept in safe accommodation, so I will of course meet the hon. Gentleman to look at the evidence. But I take this opportunity to thank the city of Glasgow, which does so much—way above proportionately—to look after vulnerable people and to assist with the Syrian and vulnerable people refugee scheme.

Will my right hon. Friend join me in thanking Worcestershire County Council, which recently agreed to resettle 50 more Syrian refugees, taking the total to 100 in the county? That is a real contribution to this country’s efforts to resettle the refugees.

I thank my hon. Friend for bringing that up, and I join her in thanking her council for doing that. The great success of the Syrian and vulnerable people resettlement scheme was something that I was able to celebrate last week, when we passed the halfway mark—we passed 10,000, of whom half are children. It is the generosity of British people and the support of local authorities and councils that has allowed that to take place. We must all be mindful of the work that our councils and communities do.

I am very pleased that one of the first families to be resettled from Syria under the community sponsorship scheme lives in my constituency. But they are trying to bring over their parents for an important family visit, and the parents are in a refugee camp in Lebanon and cannot supply the necessary evidence to complete their application. Will the Home Secretary or Immigration Minister meet me to discuss the case and the wider issue affecting refugees seeking to make visits here?

I understand the difficulty and heartbreak that there can be for the wider families when families are resettled over here. We have to allow the UNHCR to do its job and to make its selection based on who is the most vulnerable. There are some schemes, small though they are, that allow for additional family resettlement. I welcome the hon. Lady meeting one of my ministerial colleagues to discuss the matter, but I must put before the House the fact that, although we do resettle families, resettling the wider family would take up too much of the space allowed.

I recently met refugee families at an event run by the volunteers of the Milngavie refugee action group. One woman there showed me heartbreaking footage on her phone of injured children being removed from rubble. She had been sent the footage by her sister, who is stranded in Syria. Given how few Syrian refugees we have taken in to date, what hope can the Government give to refugees here who fear for the lives of their parents and siblings who are stuck in danger in Syria or in refugee camps in neighbouring countries?

We have all seen those pictures and images of children—I saw for myself just last week the children in the refugee camp in Lebanon—and the situation is heartbreaking. The UK is doing the right thing by taking up to 20,000 refugees by 2020. That is five times as many as were resettled from the region under the former Labour Government, and it is more than any other European country in terms of resettlement from the region. The UK is doing its bit, but this is a dual approach. As the hon. Lady no doubt knows, we are one of the largest bilateral donors to the area, having put in £2.4 billion since the Syrian crisis began.