Britain will accept up to 20,000 refugees from Syria by 2020, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday.
“The whole country has been deeply moved by the heart-breaking images we have seen over the past few days,” Cameron told lawmakers of the House of Commons on Monday, adding that “it’s absolutely right that Britain should fulfill the moral responsibility to help those refugees,” Xinhua reported.
He proposed that Britain should resettle up to 20,000 Syria refugees over the next five years.
Cameron said that Britain would play its part alongside other European countries. But as Britain is not part of the EU’s borderless Schengen agreement or its relocation initiative, Britain is able to decide its own approach.
Refugees arriving in Britain will be granted five year humanitarian protection visa, said Cameron, and the criteria for the current Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme of Britain will “significantly expand”.
Refugees, who could be granted humanitarian protection, can stay in Britain for five years, and have the right to work and get public funds. They can apply to settle in the country after five years.
Vulnerable children, including orphans, have the priority to be accepted by Britain. Further details will be spelt out next week.
An emergency debate was urged to be held on Tuesday, as British Labour Party said the number of the resettlement was inadequate.
Local media said the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas said Cameron’ s commitment “falls pitifully short of what’s needed,” while the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby also said the action a “very slim response”.
Britain government was under great pressure as around 800,000 refugees are expected to be received by Germany this year, and British public urged the government to take more actions.
So far, an online petition to Cameron initiated by the Independent has showed that more than 371,000 people supported that Britain must work with other European Union countries to settle and welcome a fair share refugees seeking safety in Europe.