Over 8,500 Syrian refugees have been resettled by more than 200 local authorities under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement (VPR) scheme, new figures have revealed.
The latest quarterly migration statistics, published by the Home Office, show that over 1,200 refugees arrived through the scheme in the second quarter of 2017.
In September 2015, the Government pledged to resettle 20,000 vulnerable Syrians who have fled the conflict in Syria to neighbouring countries by 2020. There are an estimated five million refugees as a result of the Syrian civil war.
Last month, the scheme was expanded to include refugees of all nationalities.
These new figures demonstrate the Government has reached over one third of its target.
‘I'm delighted with the significant progress we have made with the VPR scheme,’ said immigration minister Brandon Lewis.
‘Over 8,500 people have been resettled and more are arriving every month.
‘We will continue to work with local authorities and the UNHCR, whose hard work so far has made sure that the scheme is a success, to provide those who have been displaced by conflict with a safe environment and the opportunity to rebuild their lives.’
In July, the Government announced £1m funding to help communities support refugees through the Community Sponsorship scheme.
The scheme has been running for a year and 53 refugees from the VPRS and Vulnerable Children's Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) have been welcomed by 10 community groups across the UK.
Responding to these new figures, Stephen Hale, chief executive of Refugee Action, said: ‘It is positive news that the Government’s programme to resettle refugees affected by the Syrian conflict is on track to meet its target of welcoming 20,000 refugees to the UK by 2020.’
According to the most recent immigration statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in the year ending June 2017, 27,316 applications for asylum in Britain were made – down 25% on the previous year.
Despite this decrease, the ONS found people seeking asylum are waiting longer for their applications to be processed, with 10,033 people waiting more than six months for an initial decision on their claim, up 51% on the same period last year.
‘These latest migration figures also show that despite a significant drop in asylum applications, there has been an alarming increase of more than 50% in the number of people waiting longer than six months for their claim to be processed,’ said Mr Hale.
‘During this time people are unable to work and struggle to survive on just £5.28 a day.’
‘All refugees in Britain should have the same opportunity to rebuild their lives – starting with access to a fair and effective asylum system,’ he added.