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Jonathan Djanogly welcomes Syrian refugee proposal

29th January 2014

Jonathan Djanogly welcomes the Home Secretary’s proposal to relocate some of the most vulnerable refugees who have fled the conflict in Syria, but highlights the fact that most refugees really want to return home and that trying to make that possible should remain the priority.

Mr Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon) (Con): I certainly support the Home Secretary’s statement. I visited a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey only recently, and they were very thankful for the support Britain is providing, but I have to tell her that in three days not a single refugee told me that they wanted to relocate to Britain, or indeed any other country; they wanted to go home and to be free from a murderous regime. I think that we need to keep that in mind when prioritising our resources.

Mrs May: My hon. Friend makes an important point. I commend him and the other Members of the House who visited the refugee camp in Turkey, led by my hon. Friend the Member for The Cotswolds (Geoffrey Clifton-Brown). They not only talked with the refugees there, but did some constructive work to support them. He is absolutely right that the vast majority of refugees want to be able to return home to a Syria that is not in conflict. That is why our first priority must be to try to ensure that there is a political resolution and a smooth transition in the government of Syria. Our second priority must be to help those who are “in region”, which means that they will be able to return home when the time comes.

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UNHCR Syrian Refugees Programme Debate

Jonathan Djanogly raises concerns about access to education and services for the majority of Syrian refugees who do not live in camps.

Mr Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon) (Con): Does the right hon. Lady appreciate that in Turkey, for instance, the significant majority of refugees do not live in the camps? Of 700,000 thousand refugees, only 200,000 are in the camps, and children who are outside the camps are the ones not getting the education.

Yvette Cooper: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, and that is also the case in Lebanon where refugees living in towns and villages now make up a sizeable proportion of the Lebanese population. Some of the vulnerable refugees that the UN has identified are within the camps, but he is right to say that there will be people in other circumstances who are also experiencing great distress. I know he will agree that many of those refugees want to return to their homes and stay in the region, but it is right that we provide additional assistance to those who are most vulnerable.

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