Sheffield to provide Resettlement for Displaced Refugees in Response to Home Office Request
Sheffield Council are to increase the number of refugees they welcome into the city after a request was put in by the Home Office.
The report asked Sheffield Council, “to provide for the resettlement of a maximum of 220 refugees of whom 130 will be placed in Sheffield”, before praising the city for successfully “providing the best housing and resettlement services for new refugees arriving in the city”.
Sheffield is no stranger to welcoming refugees, having refurbished a disused school to receive a number of Kosovan refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing in the 1990s. In 2005, they were also the first city in the UK to declare themselves a City of Sanctuary. This is a movement of councils, local communities and refugee organisations that openly declare that their towns and cities are a safe and welcoming place for people those seeking refuge. Since then over 40 towns and cities have also joined the movement, many across parts of Yorkshire and Humber.
The recent intake of refugees is part of the Gateway Protection Programme a scheme launched by the British government providing a legal option for a quota of UNHCR-identified refugees in the global resettlement programme to be granted permission to settle in the UK. These refugees are fleeing persecution and violence in war-torn parts of the world and this Gateway Protection Programme is a way to remove refugees from camps and into stable environments. Officially launched in 2004, the programme has been continued by successive governments.
However, over the last few months the British government has come under intense scrutiny from Amnesty International, Refugee Action and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper for accepting only 143 displaced Syrians as of March 2015, considerably fewer refugees than their European Union counterparts.
Despite offering over £700m in humanitarian aid, Amnesty International have argued that the resettlement of the some displaced 3.2million Syrians is mostly important as the civil war enters its fifth year.
“We are in the grip of the greatest refugee crisis in recent memory and this commitment still pales in comparison to pledges made by other European countries”, Dr Lisa Doyle of the Refugee Council told The Independent.
The figures the Home Office requested for Sheffield Council to resettle are still remarkably low. However Sheffield’s positive response, together with its reputation as a city boasting refugee welcoming credentials as well as a number of organisations such as ASSIST and the Northern Refugee Centre offering invaluable support to displaced families and women, Sheffield’s example is one to be replicated and hopefully this marks an increased awareness that Britain must do more to help.
Amnesty International - http://www.amnesty.org.uk/uk-must-offer-lifeline-more-syrian-refugees#.Va-c1vlqCUk
BBC News - Thousands of Refugees to fly to the UK - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/335982.stm
City of Sanctuary - http://cityofsanctuary.org/about/