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Julian Huppert writes: We’re continuing Britain’s long and proud tradition of protecting the most vulnerable

March 25, 2014 5:05 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Today the first group of vulnerable Syrian refugees arrived in Britain, 8 weeks after we finally got the Conservatives to agree to contribute to the international effort to resettle refugees who have fled the protracted conflict in Syria.

Those who arrived today and who will continue to arrive over the coming weeks, months and perhaps even years represent the most vulnerable and we've worked closely with UNHCR to identify them and get them out as quickly as possible.

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Of course we cannot provide refuge for everyone and neighbouring countries like Jordan and Lebanon will continue to bear the heaviest burden but we can stand in solidarity with them. This gesture shows that we are still a compassionate country who will do our bit when the international community calls on us to act and we should be proud of that.

Those coming as part of the VPR scheme will be afforded five years' Humanitarian Protection and access to public funds, the labour market and the possibility of family reunion. This stability will be something many have not felt for years now and it is hugely important to help heal their scars and give their lives some level of normalcy.

I simply do not believe that the Tories would have done this alone. Without the Liberal Democrats in Government and Nick negotiating for this at the highest level I worry that Britain would have continued to stand on the sidelines rather than playing an active role.

Of course, we should not forget that the Coalition Government has already given £600m in humanitarian aid - making us the 2nd largest bilateral donor, this well help deliver aid on the ground and relieve the pressure on neighbouring host countries, but as the situation in Syria shows no sign of abating we must ensure that we are doing all we can.

Britain has a long and proud tradition of accepting the most vulnerable and I am glad that we are continuing to do what's right and are sharing the burden with our international partners in every way we can.