UK to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020

UK to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020
# 07 September 2015 21:16 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. The U.K. will take in 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years, Prime Minister David Cameron announced Monday.

Addressing parliament as lawmakers returned after the summer recess, Cameron said children would be prioritized from camps in countries neighboring Syria, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

"The whole country has been deeply moved by the heartbreaking images we have seen over the past few days and it is absolutely right that Britain should fulfill its moral responsibility to help those refugees," Cameron said.

"But in doing so, we must use our head and our heart by pursuing a comprehensive approach that tackles the causes of the problem as well as the consequences."

The government was criticized last week over plans to accept around 4,000 refugees amid an outpouring of sympathy for refugees seeking safety in Europe after the images of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi made the front pages of newspapers.

Cameron said the U.K.’s focus would also be on stabilizing refugees’ home countries, seeking a solution to the conflict in Syria and pressing for the creation of a unity government in Libya.

Britain will also target people smuggling gangs and playing a role in rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean Sea.

He added: "Britain already works with the UN to deliver resettlement programs and we will accept thousands more under these existing schemes… We are proposing that Britain should resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the rest of this parliament."

Cameron said Britain was the "only major country in the world that has kept our promise to spend 0.7 percent of our GDP on aid" and reiterated last week’s announcement of a further 100 million pounds ($153 million) for aid, taking the country’s contribution to 1 billion pounds.

"That is the UK’s largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis," he said.

The prime minister told parliament 60 million pounds of the additional funding would go to help Syrians still in Syria and the rest would go to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

According to the UN, there are 1.9 million Syrian refugees registered in Turkey alone as of Aug. 25. Since April 2011, Turkey has spent $5.6 billion for Syrian refugees, according to official data.