Alyn Smith, Stirling MP and SNP Foreign Affairs Spokesperson at Westminster, has urged the UK Government to take further action on the resettlement of refugees – particularly in light of devastating budget cuts to UK overseas aid.
Such cuts will weaken initiatives in some of the most war-torn areas in the world, such as fighting polio and malaria, promoting sexual and reproductive health, or boosting the education of women and girls.
Some programmes have had their budgets cut by over 85%, severely undermining the Government’s promise of a Global Britain. The Home Secretary has gone on record promising to build on the success of previous schemes and continue the UK’s tradition of resettling refugees who need support.
Previous schemes saw integrated working with the United Nations and the International Organisation of Migration to identify individuals and families in need. However, when pressed for further clarity around the new UK Global Resettlement Scheme which replaces the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, these promises ring hollow..
SNP Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Alyn Smith MP said:
‘The UK has commitments, morally and legally, under international law to do its fair bit in assisting in the resettlement of refugees. Whilst the pandemic has understandably led to a disruption in many government functions, this is an area where need remains extremely pressing, and people remain desperate.
‘In my own constituency of Stirling, charities such as Forth Valley Welcome do valuable work in partnership with public bodies to support and integrate refugees into the community. Previous work owed success to the structured approach taken at national level, including target and goal setting for resettlement.
‘The Home Office must provide additional details as to its future plans on refugee resettlement, to give other key stakeholders the time and space to plan successful management. Instead we see continued short-termism and swinging cuts to schemes which support some of society’s most vulnerable.
‘The ‘hostile-environment’ approach by the UK Government will only serve to damage any ‘Global Britain’ aspirations, and seriously diminish UK soft power and standing on the world stage. It’s not too late to change course.’