The UK Home Office has announced plans to resettle around 5,000 vulnerable refugees per year under a new scheme set to begin in 2020.
The scheme will bring together the current Vulnerable Persons’ Resettlement Scheme, the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme and the Gateway Protection Programme into a single system of resettlement for vulnerable refugees. It is hoped the new programme will provide a more consistent, streamlined service for UK refugee resettlement; with a broader focus extending beyond Africa and the Middle East.
Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor, UK Representative for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said: “We are delighted by this announcement from the UK, which is extending its commitment to offer international protection to a meaningful number of refugees from wherever the need is most acute. Resettlement is a crucial component of international solidarity for those states bearing the greatest burden and gives refugees the possibility of rebuilding their lives. We hope this serves as a signal for other countries to provide more routes to safety for those forced to flee as the international community moves to make the global compact on refugees a reality.”
Concurrently the UK intends to develop new procedures covering emergency resettlement for refugees, facilitating a swift response in instances where refugees face immediate harm. Meanwhile the community sponsorship scheme, under which community groups are encouraged to provide support to refugees in the UK, will continue unaltered.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “The resettlement of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable refugees over the past four years is something the UK can be proud of. I am pleased to hear that the government intends to continue this life-saving programme. I am delighted that the government recognises the value of communities welcoming refugees through community sponsorship, a scheme I am privileged to have been involved with. From 2020 refugees resettled through community sponsorship will be in addition to the government’s commitment. I call on faith leaders and communities to make the most of this opportunity to change the lives of more refugees and transform communities in the process.”