Holding answer received on 12 March 2015
The Government is deeply concerned about the crisis in Syria, the suffering and hardship it is causing for millions of displaced Syrians in the region, and the strain it is placing on their host countries. That is why we launched the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme, offering protection in the UK to some of the most vulnerable refugees, who cannot be supported effectively in the region. The scheme is based on need rather than fulfilling a quota, but we have said that we expect it to help several hundred people over three years, and we remain on track to deliver that commitment. We therefore have no current plans to change the way the scheme operates. However, we continue to monitor the situation in Syria and the surrounding region and work closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to identify the most vulnerable people displaced by the conflict to ensure that the scheme remains responsive to need.
However given the scale of the crisis, we believe the most effective way to ensure the UK’s help has the greatest impact for displaced people and their host countries is through substantial humanitarian aid and actively seeking an end to the conflict so that refugees can return to their homes and livelihoods safely. We have committed £800 million in response to the crisis, making us the second largest bilateral donor in the world, and UK funding is helping to support hundreds of thousands of displaced people in the region, providing food, healthcare and essential supplies. Compared with aid, resettlement can only ever help a minority of those in need.
The VPR scheme does not form part of the UN quota but runs in parallel with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees' (UNHCR) own Syria Humanitarian Admission Programme. The Government has been clear that this is a crisis of international proportions and needs a fitting response from the international community.
EU member states have responded to the Syrian crisis in different ways and it is for each state to decide how they help those displaced by the crisis. The UNHCR is best placed to comment on the policies of other countries regarding Syrian refugees.