Britain to take 20 000 Syrian refugees
08 September 2015, 10:39
London - Britain will take 20 000 Syrian refugees from camps near the war-torn country's borders over the next five years, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday.
"We are proposing the UK should resettle up to 20 000 refugees over the rest of this parliament," Cameron said in a statement in the House of Commons.
"In doing so, we will continue to show the world that this country is a country of extraordinary compassion, always standing up for our values and helping those in need," he added.
Britain will continue to take refugees from the camps and from elsewhere in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, he said.
"This provides refugees with a more direct and safe route to the UK, rather than risking the hazardous journey to Europe," explained Cameron.
Britain will give priority to vulnerable refugees such as orphans, according to the prime minister.
Cameron has been under pressure internationally and domestically to address the refugee crisis, and Monday vowed to "help to stabilise countries where the refugees are coming from".
He said he would "seek a solution to the crisis in Syria, push for the formation of a new unity government in Libya and bust the criminal gangs."
Charity Oxfam welcomed Cameron's announcement, calling it an important first step.
"It will give much needed respite to people fleeing horrors most of us can only imagine," said Mark Goldring, Oxfam's chief executive.
"This is a good step forward, but its far from job done."
Britain has accepted 216 Syrian refugees under a special government scheme over the past year and nearly 5 000 Syrians have been granted asylum since the conflict there broke out in 2011 - far fewer than countries like Germany and Sweden.
Britain has also opted out of a quota system for relocating asylum seekers within the European Union despite growing calls in the EU for fairer distribution.
More than four million Syrians have fled the war.