Islamic Relief has teamed up with leading humanitarian organisations and UK refugee groups to call for the country to join a global resettlement programme for some of Syria’s most vulnerable refugees.
The number of Syrians driven from their war-torn country has topped 2.3 million, according to the latest United Nations figures – with no end to the three-year conflict yet in sight. Eighteen states currently provide sanctuary through the resettlement programme.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the organisations recognise the assistance already provided by the UK – which includes £500 million in aid – and urge that Syrians with family already living in the country be allowed to reunite with their loved ones.
“UNHCR has appealed for western governments to accept 30,000 of the most vulnerable refugees from the region. This would include women at risk, children who are in need of special assistance, vulnerable older adults and torture survivors who will simply struggle to survive in the harsh conditions in the region. We must play our part in offering them a place of safety.
“This number may seem like a drop in the ocean, but it would transform the lives of each person resettled and help countries like Lebanon and Jordan who are already feeling the strain. In Lebanon, one of the most densely populated countries in the world, a fifth of the population are now Syrian refugees.
“People in neighbouring states have shown incredible compassion and opened their homes to hundreds of thousands of people but we all have a shared responsibility. It would be catastrophic if the neighbouring countries closed their borders to the thousands of people who flee the conflict every day. Yet how can we call on Syria’s neighbours to keep their borders open to refugees if we keep our own under lock and key?”
More than 20 organisations are signatories to the letter, which was published at the weekend by The Independent. Other signatories include the Refugee Council, Amnesty International, Jewish Council for Racial Equality, CAFOD, War Child, Christian Aid, and Muslim Aid. Regional bodies such as the North of England Refugee Service, Welsh Refugee Council, and Scottish Refugee Council have also signed.
Islamic Relief has also been lobbying for improved access and humanitarian corridors to Syria, and has continued to deliver humanitarian aid to Syrians suffering in the violent conflict since 2011. From our field offices in Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey, we work inside war-torn Syria, and also provide vital support to refugees seeking safety in a number of countries – particularly, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.