Tuesday 16 January 2018

Britain to take in hundreds of women and children from Syria

A Syrian refugee child walks along a snow covered path during winter in Aarsal town in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa December 13, 2013. A powerful winter storm sweeping the eastern Mediterranean this week is causing mayhem across the region. The storm, named Alexa, is expected to last until Saturday, bringing more snow, rain and freezing temperatures to large swathes of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. The bad weather, which began on Wednesday, is taking a disproportionate toll on the 2.2 million refugees living outside Syria and the 6.5 million people displaced within the country. REUTERS/Ahmad Shalha
A Syrian refugee child walks along a snow covered path during winter in Aarsal town in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa December 13, 2013. A powerful winter storm sweeping the eastern Mediterranean this week is causing mayhem across the region. The storm, named Alexa, is expected to last until Saturday, bringing more snow, rain and freezing temperatures to large swathes of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. The bad weather, which began on Wednesday, is taking a disproportionate toll on the 2.2 million refugees living outside Syria and the 6.5 million people displaced within the country. REUTERS/Ahmad Shalha
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced that Britain is to take in some of the most vulnerable refugees from the Syrian civil war, including torture survivors and victims of sexual assaults
A Syrian refugee child shovels snow outside a tent in Aarsal town in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa December 13, 2013. A powerful winter storm sweeping the eastern Mediterranean this week is causing mayhem across the region. The storm, named Alexa, is expected to last until Saturday, bringing more snow, rain and freezing temperatures to large swathes of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. The bad weather, which began on Wednesday, is taking a disproportionate toll on the 2.2 million refugees living outside Syria and the 6.5 million people displaced within the country. REUTERS/Ahmad Shalha
The makeshift refugee camp in Marej, in the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon, is now home to thousands of displaced refugees, fleeing the violence in Syria
Displaced children line up to receive vaccination against polio at one of the Syrian refugee camps in the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon (AP)
Syrian refugee children stand outisde their tent in Aarsal town in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa December 13, 2013. A powerful winter storm sweeping the eastern Mediterranean this week is causing mayhem across the region. The storm, named Alexa, is expected to last until Saturday, bringing more snow, rain and freezing temperatures to large swathes of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. The bad weather, which began on Wednesday, is taking a disproportionate toll on the 2.2 million refugees living outside Syria and the 6.5 million people displaced within the country.

Britain will take in hundreds of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees, including rape and torture victims, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said on Tuesday, announcing a softening of the government's stance.

Clegg said the government had been given United Nations backing to accept Syrian refugees on a case-by-case basis, but was stopping short of agreeing to take in a quota under a U.N. scheme to resettle 30,000 of the most vulnerable cases.

"Sadly we cannot provide safety for everyone who needs it, but we can reach out to some of those who need it most," Clegg said.

The three-year Syrian civil war that has killed more than 130,000 people has also pushed around 2.4 million out of Syria and into refugee camps in neighbouring states.

Clegg's announcement comes a day before the opposition Labour party is due to hold a parliamentary debate on the subject, hoping to put pressure on the government to join the U.N. scheme and fall into line with other participating Western states like France and Germany.

"I am very glad the Government has finally bowed to pressure before tomorrow's opposition vote," said Labour's home affairs spokeswoman Yvette Cooper.

Clegg said the government would focus on resettling women and girls who have experienced, or are at risk of, sexual violence. The elderly, survivors of torture and individuals with disabilities would also be treated as priority cases.

Britain says it is the second largest donor of humanitarian aid to Syria, providing £600m to date.

In the last year it has accepted around 1,500 Syrian asylum seekers who had made their way to Britain, but had previously resisted taking in refugees direct from the region.

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