Many of my constituents have been writing to me to express their concerns regarding the plight of Syrian refugees. Please be assured of my heartfelt support on this matter.
The painful truth, is that we are now facing the worst refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War, and when people are willing to risk the lives of their families for the chance to get to safety, it is time to act.
Here in the United Kingdom, we have always taken our share in the past, and we must do so now. In the 1970s, when Idi Amin ordered the ethnic cleansing of Indians in Uganda, Britain offered sanctuary to more than 27,000 refugees. In the 1980s, the UK became home to around 19,000 Vietnamese refugees who fled the country by boat and ship after the Vietnam War.
Once again, we find ourselves with a role to play, alongside our friends in Europe, and those genuinely seeking sanctuary have to be allowed to find it here. We have a moral responsibility to help those in need, and the Prime Minister’s announcement to expand the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme to resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020, with vulnerable children and orphans being prioritised.
However, we need to address this issue at the source and take steps to stabilise Syria. The way to prevent Syrian refugees from making that treacherous and the hands of exploitative criminal gangs, isn’t to place arbitrary limits on the number of refugees we can take; it’s to restore safety and security to the country from which they flee in such numbers.
Sadly, of course, we cannot help everyone, but we absolutely must do all that we can.