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UK should ‘dramatically accelerate’ resettlement plans for Syrian refugees, says Islamic Relief’s new UK director at Conservative Conference

UK should ‘dramatically accelerate’ resettlement plans for Syrian refugees, says Islamic Relief’s new UK director at Conservative Conference

The new UK Director of Islamic Relief will use his speech in a fringe debate at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester to urge the Government to inject greater urgency into resettling Syrian refugees in the UK and leave ‘no diplomatic stone unturned’ in the search for a lasting peace in Syria.

At a conference fringe debate organised by Islamic Relief and World Vision (details in Notes to Editors along with details of separate Muslim Charities Forum fringe event), Imran Madden will speak alongside the Minister of State for International Development, Desmond Swayne MP, to highlight the enormous human cost of forgotten crises around the world – and the Syrian conflict in particular.

Conference delegates will see a new Islamic Relief video filmed this month in Lebanon. The video and Imran Madden’s speech will highlight five key areas where Islamic Relief says stronger UK action is needed to stop the suffering that has dominated news bulletins all summer:

  • Renewed and concerted diplomatic effort to secure a ceasefire in Syria and a lasting peace
  • Humanitarian corridors and safe havens to get more vital aid in and seriously wounded casualties out
  • A redoubling of global efforts to support chronically underfunded UN aid programmes for people inside Syria and in neighbouring host countries
  • A commitment to share fully in coordinated EU-wide assistance for Syrian refugees in Europe
  • A dramatic acceleration of planned refugee resettlement in the UK.

“Britain’s generosity abroad needs to be matched by our compassion at home and supported by fresh diplomatic energy to end the brutal Syrian conflict that is the root cause of this unprecedented refugee crisis,” says Imran Madden. “The UK and EU have obligations to refugees under international law that must be honoured. I applaud the generosity of the UK Government in assisting Syrians affected by the conflict in Syria and in neighbouring countries, but much more can and should be done to host refugees in the UK and bring about a ceasefire. No diplomatic stone should be left unturned in the search for peace, and most of the 20,000 refugees the UK has agreed to host should be accommodated within two years, not five.”

While filming the video in Lebanon, Islamic Relief’s team met a Syrian father who had lost two of his six children since coming to Lebanon – the country he hoped would be a safe refuge from the conflict. Accelerating the UK’s resettlement programmes could save the lives of vulnerable refugees like these, by taking them out of challenging living conditions and sparing them the perilous journey to Europe that many are risking.

The number of Syrians fleeing the country as refugees recently topped 4 million, and over 1.1 million of these are registered in Lebanon. Some estimates put the figure for Syrian refugees in Lebanon closer to 2 million, once unregistered refugees are factored in. This means that Lebanon, a country with an estimated population of 4 million before the conflict, is hosting a Syrian population that is equivalent to the UK taking in over 30 million Syrian refugees. Understandably, Lebanon’s infrastructure is struggling to cope.

The UN has only received 37% of the funds it requires to support Syrian refugees in Lebanon this year, and as a result the World Food Programme has been forced to cut the food allowance for refugees to only $13.50 per month – which equates to just 30p per refugee per day. NGO projects, such as Islamic Relief’s medical centre in the Bekaa Valley, are struggling to cope with increased demand in the wake of UN project closures.

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