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Coventry leads the way in helping Syrian refugees

Published Wednesday, 03 August 2016

Coventry was today revealed as the leading city for offering a new home and help for Syrian refugees, as a report called for more to be done across the country.

Council House

The city has offered sanctuary to 105 refugees, with the next highest being Nottingham with 81.

The report reveals that large parts of Britain have not taken in any Syrian refugees since a new government programme was announced last year.

Refugees have been concentrated in urban areas and Cabinet ministers have failed to encourage their local authorities to take more in, a report by MPs found.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said the situation was "very disappointing".

In September 2015, then Prime Minister David Cameron announced the Government would resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees over the course of this Parliament to 2020. By March 2016, 1,602 people had been accepted under the scheme and Mr Vaz said more needs to be done to meet the target.

In a wide-ranging report on the migration crisis, the committee called on the Government to accept 157 unaccompanied children in Calais who have family members in the UK "as a one-off"; warned that Britain's Border Force has a "worryingly low" number of boats for patrolling the coast; and accused the EU and its member states of failing to anticipate the scale of migrant flows.

Mr Vaz described Europe's efforts to address the "colossal" refugee crisis as "lamentable" and said Britain has "done its bit", but he criticised those councils which have taken in no Syrian refugees.

He said: "We're very disappointed that huge swathes of our country have no Syrian refugees, despite the conscience of the nation being that people are happy to have them locally.

"They are concentrated to some very large urban areas and actually cabinet ministers have not been encouraging their local authorities to take more Syrian refugees.

"This has got to happen if we're going to meet the target of 20,000. At the moment the target looks like not being met."

Cllr Abdul Khan, Deputy Leader of Coventry City Council and Cabinet Member for Equalities, said: “Coventry is a proud multicultural city, with a long tradition of welcoming people from all parts of the world and offering sanctuary to those who need it. 

“We believe it is right to help people in need and we are happy to have helped more than 100 Syrian refugees find a new, safe home in our city.

“We are very proud to have been able to help so many and we are proud of the people of our city for the way they have helped to make them feel at home and a part of our community.

“We will always try and do what we believe is right, and we believe it is right to help others who have been forced to flee their homeland, suffering terrible hardship along the way and who now have to come to terms with a new way of life in a city far from home.

“Many of those who need help are women and children and we work with some very dedicated voluntary sector and faith organisations across the city, as well as colleagues in other statutory services, to make sure they get the best care possible.

“Coventry will continue to provide help wherever it can and I hope other cities across the country will join us and show how communities can come together to offer those in need hope and a brighter future.”

The report also recommended the Government increase its use of family reunion visas for refugee asylum cases to make it easier for applications to be made in countries of origin and to help avoid women and children "feeling obliged to attempt high-risk and illegal travel to Europe in order to be reunited with male relatives".

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Our priority is to offer humanitarian support to those most in need while maintaining the security of our borders."

She said refuge has already been provided for more than 1,800 Syrians under the scheme, while the Government is "on track" to deliver on its pledge to resettle 20,000 by the end of the parliament.

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