Take in more Syrian refugees, urges UK public

Lucy Purdy

New research challenges the government’s assertion that there is little capacity to house Syrian refugees. Local authorities have now committed to accommodate nearly 22,000 people fleeing from the country – and grassroots pressure has been key

The number of offers from councils in the UK to host Syrian refugees has now exceeded the government pledge of taking in 20,000. Local authorities have already committed enough homes to accommodate 21,650 Syrian refugees, according to research by the Guardian.

In many cases, councils have upped their offers of help after campaigns by grassroots charities and community groups. Some report being “overwhelmed” by public support to help resettle people displaced by the six-year war in the Middle Eastern nation. Around 30 local authorities report that housing was freed up after charities and faith groups made property available.

Civil society is more than ready. It makes me very proud as a Brit; very proud as a former refugee

Bekele Woyecha, a community organiser at Citizens UK, is a former refugee from Ethiopia. “Civil society is more than ready,” he said. “I think there is an information gap: Citizens UK was able to build 96 welcome teams across Britain in 18 months who were all willing to do their bit locally. The British public is ready to keep the tradition of offering sanctuary. It makes me very proud as a Brit; very proud as a former refugee.”

Bekele Woyecha is an organiser at Citizens UK, a charity that builds and supports civil society alliances

The finding contrasts starkly with claims by Robert Goodwill, UK immigration minister, that a lack of capacity at local authority level meant he must significantly reduce the number of unaccompanied children to be offered refuge in the UK.

Many councils have pledged to make even more properties available if necessary. More than 6,000 Syrian refugees have been settled in the UK so far.

Featured image: Citizens UK


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