Refugee resettlement programme

The UK government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme focusses on people who have fled Syria because of the current conflict, sought refuge in the countries around Syria and are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The UNHCR identifies individuals and families who are particularly vulnerable for medical or other reasons. The UK government carries out security screening before deciding whether to accept a family. Most of these families are Syrian however the scheme is open to all nationalities who had to flee Syria because of the conflict.

The Vulnerable Childrens Resettlement Scheme focuses on resettling vulnerable children and their families from the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. This is an additional commitment from the government that aims to resettle up to 3000 children and their families across the UK by 2020. This scheme is open to refugees of all nationalities and is not restricted to those displaced by the Syrian conflict. The UNHCR identifies children and adolescents at risk for whom resettlement is in their best interest and carries out the necessary security screening before taking the decision to resettle the child and their family/care givers. This scheme is also open to unaccompanied children.

If the UK government agrees to resettle a refugee family, it gives them a humanitarian visa for five years. This gives family members the right to work and to use public services.

Councils volunteer to participate in the programme and can control the rate at which families arrive. In Devon, councils are aiming to house families in private rented properties that the landlord has offered or agreed to rent to refugee families. Refugee families do not get any preferential treatment for housing.

In Devon, the city and district councils are responsible for housing. Each council has taken its own decision about how many families it is aiming to house. These are the pledges and progress at
1st December 2019:

AreaCity/District Council pledge (families)
City/District Council offers (houses found)
Community sponsors approved (families)
Families arrived
People arrived
East Devon841418
Mid Devon5329
North Devon4 3315
South Hams66623
TorridgeNot specified2212
West Devon45522

Devon has formed a partnership to help families to settle in and lead independent, safe and productive lives. This includes professionals from the NHS, education and social care who make sure that local services will be able to meet refugees’ needs. Community and voluntary organisations are taking the lead in helping families get to know the local area and UK culture, make contact with faith and support groups, learn English and where possible get into work.

Refugee families have been through great hardship and settling in a new country is a huge challenge. Families are entitled to privacy, so councils will not make individual announcements about the timing and locations of resettlement.

In June 2019, the Government announced an ongoing global resettlement scheme for the most vulnerable refugees.  The UK plans to resettle in the region of 5,000 of the world’s most vulnerable refugees in the first year of the new scheme, once the Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Scheme concludes next year.  As before Councils can volunteer to participate in the new scheme and control the rate at which families arrive.

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