MPs urge more support for Syrian torture victims

The Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has published a report calling on the government to do more to help Syrian torture survivors arriving in the UK as refugees.

The paper warned that more than half of Syrian refugees to the UK had suffered torture or violence but ‘only a few’ had been referred for treatment. It also said a UK target to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by May 2020 remained a ‘significant challenge’.

The PAC report maintained that ‘encouraging’ progress was being made but problems remained with the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement programme.

Meg Hillier, PAC chairwoman, said: "It is a stark fact that more than half of the refugees resettled under the programme by the end of June last year had suffered torture or violence and it is critical that such people receive specialist support."

Responding to the report, Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association's Asylum, Migration and Refugee Task Group, said: "Councils have an excellent track record in welcoming asylum seeking and refugee children, as well as their families, and continue to work hard to support the Syrian resettlement scheme alongside all the other schemes in current operation.

"We are confident that there will be sufficient pledges to support the Government's aim to resettle 20,000 people by 2020, and the LGA, Regional Partnerships and authorities will continue to share learning on how best to settle families in their new communities.

"When called upon by government, councils responded quickly, offering their support to make sure vulnerable refugees had a safe place to call home.

"The focus is now on ensuring families are well supported. Councils are and will be helping some of the most vulnerable families fleeing Syria who will need access to ongoing support services to help them cope with injuries, disabilities and recover from the severe trauma they may have experienced."