Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing to you on behalf of the most vulnerable refugees from Syria who are struggling to survive in crowded refugee camps and makeshift shelters. They have witnessed and survived unimaginable horrors. Meanwhile Syrians living in the UK are desperately worried about their families.
The UK deserves credit for its leadership in providing assistance to refugees in the region, including £600m in aid, helping millions of families survive. However, given the scale and the gravity of the humanitarian crisis unfolding across the region, we would urge the UK to join the 18 other states participating in UNHCR’s global resettlement programme. Those with family already in the UK should be allowed to reunite with their loved ones.
UNHCR has appealed for Western governments to accept 30,000 of the most vulnerable refugees from the region. This would include women at risk, children who are in need of special assistance, vulnerable older adults and torture survivors who will simply struggle to survive in the harsh conditions in the region. We must play our part in offering them a place of safety.
This number may seem like a drop in the ocean, but it would transform the lives of each person resettled and help countries like Lebanon and Jordan who are already feeling the strain. In Lebanon, one of the most densely populated countries in the world, a fifth of the population are now Syrian refugees.
People in neighbouring states have shown incredible compassion and opened their homes to hundreds of thousands of people but we all have a shared responsibility. It would be catastrophic if the neighbouring countries closed their borders to the thousands of people who flee the conflict every day. Yet how can we call on Syria’s neighbours to keep their borders open to refugees if we keep our own under lock and key?
Maurice Wren, CEO, Refugee Council
Kate Allen, director, Amnesty International
Richard Miller, executive director, ActionAid
Wayne Myslik, CEO, Asylum Aid
Chris Bain, director, Cafod
Paul Valentin, international director, Christian Aid
Tiffy Allen, national coordinator, City of Sanctuary
Chris Doyle, director, Council for Arab-British Understanding
Keith Best, CEO, Freedom from Torture
Faddy Sahloul, chairman, Hand in Hand for Syria
Dr Mohamed Ashmawey, CEO, Islamic Relief Worldwide
Peter Balleis SJ, international director, Jesuit Refugee Service
Dr Edie Friedman, executive director, Jewish Council for Racial Equality
Syed Sharfuddin, CEO, Muslim Aid
Jim Steinke, CEO, Northern Refugee Centre
Mohamed Nasreldin, CEO, North of England Refugee Service
Mark Goldring, CEO, Oxfam
Dave Garrett, CEO, Refugee Action
Michel Gabaudan, president, Refugees International
Amy Lythgoe, chair of trustees, Refugee Welcome Trust
Justin Forsyth, CEO, Save the Children
John Wilkes, CEO, Scottish Refugee Council
Emma Williams, CEO, Student Action for Refugees
Rob Williams, CEO, War Child
Salah Mohamed, CEO, Welsh Refugee Council