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Refugee Council, UNHCR welcome Home Office decision to grant refugee status to resettled Syrians

Date of Publication: 
24 March 2017

Home Secretary Amber Rudd announces resettled Syrian refugees will now be given full refugee status

Refugee Council, UNHCR welcome Home Office decision to grant refugee status to resettled Syrians

24 March 2017

The Refugee Council on Wednesday welcomed a Home Office announcement that Syrian refugees who are being resettled in the UK will now be granted refugee status.

Syrian refugees being resettled in the UK through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and the Vulnerable Children's Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) have previously been granted Humanitarian Protection, which gives five years' limited leave to remain.

A written ministerial statement to the Commons by Home Secretary Amber Rudd stated: "We think it is right to change the policy and now is the right time to make this change. Therefore, with effect from 1 July 2017, we will be granting those admitted under the VPRS and the VCRS refugee status and five years' limited leave. Those who have been resettled under these programmes before this date will be given the opportunity to make a request to change their status from Humanitarian Protection to refugee status. We will publish more information on how individuals can do this in due course.

"We can be proud of the contribution the UK is making to support refugees and we believe that this policy change better reflects the situation of those being resettled to the UK and the additional entitlements attached to refugee status will help these vulnerable people make the best start to their life in the UK."

Responding to the announcement, Refugee Council Director of Advocacy Dr. Lisa Doyle said: "The Refugee Council is delighted that refugees from Syria have finally been recognised as such by the Government. This news will open the door to university for thousands of Syrian refugees and enable people to be able to visit their loved ones in other countries. It's never been enough for the Government's resettlement programme to enable Syrian refugees to simply survive, and everyone stands to benefit from allowing refugees to thrive, integrate into British life and achieve their full potential."

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also welcomed the announcement and stressed the importance the decision will have for the successful integration of Syrian refugees.

UNHCR Representative to the UK Gonzalo Vargas Llosa said: "We are pleased and encouraged by the Government's decision to grant refugee status to families and individuals resettled to the UK through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme for Syrian refugees and the Vulnerable Children at Risk scheme. This is a step in the right direction and the decision will contribute to the successful integration of refugees in the UK. Matched with the ground swell of support of the British public for refugees, this decision will help provide the sense of stability and certainty that refugees need about their future.

"The UK was among the first to respond to UNHCR's 2013 call for temporary or long-term safe and legal pathways for Syrian refugees. As the Syrian conflict enters its seventh year, the UK's decision will help support the long-term integration of refugees."