Syria Solidarity Movement Press Release:

The government has conceded only 24 Syrian refugees have arrived in Britain as part of its resettlement programme for Syria, the Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme.

Campaigners, who will protest outside the Home Office today at 6.30pm, have said this confirms their ‘worst fears’. They are also highlighting the plight of Syrian refugees who are facing long delays in their asylum claims while living in poverty.

Luke Cooper, of the Syria Solidarity Movement, a campaign group that opposes the Syrian regime’s war on its own people, said:

“This confirms our worst fears about the government programme. They have been extremely reluctant to reveal these figures and now we know why: they are embarrassingly low and contradict Britain’s supposed support for the relief effort.

“There are over 2.5 million refugees who have fled Syria and 6.5 million internally displaced, making Syrians one of the largest refugee populations in the world. The Home Office response to this catastrophe is quite disgraceful, especially seen in the context of the generous programmes of the United States, Germany, and others.”

Meanwhile, Syrian asylum seekers who have made it to Britain by their own means have faced long delays in processing of their claims. Omar Farzat, a Syrian asylum seeker, said:

“I escaped Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp just as it came under siege from the Assad regime and fled to the UK leaving my friends and family behind to starve. I had no choice – I was wanted for my political opinions. I desperately want to help them but my hands are tied because the Home Office has not processed my claim.”

The protest has won wide support. Fabian Hamilton MP, whose constituency Leeds North East is home to many Syrian asylum claimants, says he will join demonstrators.

So will Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party, and Ajmal Masroor, a leading figure in the British Muslim community. Across Britain protests will also take place in Oxford, Leeds, Liverpool, and Glasgow, as well as London, on the 16th June.

Migrant rights campaign groups have put the plight of Syrian refugees in the context of wider attacks on migrant rights by this government.

David Landau of the campaign group No One Is Illegal said:

“This highlights the contempt this government has for all refugees and migrants. While the authorities scapegoat ‘foreigners’, we know that many working class people value the extraordinary contribution of migrants to our health service, education, and public services. We are all workers and need to unite.”