UK's Liberal Democrats pledge to resettle 50,000 Syrian refugees

UK's Liberal Democrats pledge to resettle 50,000 Syrian refugees
Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron made a pledge to resettle 50,000 Syrian refugees ahead of general elections scheduled for June, while describing the rival Conservative government's resettlement policy as "pitiful".
3 min read
11 May, 2017
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron speaks with a Sudanese refugee in Poole, September 2015 [Archive/Getty]

The leader of the UK's Liberal Democrats party has called on the UK to welcome 50,000 more Syrian refugees to the country, in addition to re-opening a scheme to resettle lone child refugees from Europe that was abandoned by the country’s Conservative government.

Ahead of general elections, scheduled to take place on 8 June, Tim Farron said that the call would be included in the Liberal Democrats manifesto, calling on Labour to match it.

"Labour should match this, this is a challenge to other parties and particularly to the government," he said.

"I think we need a strong opposition and you only get that with a clear alternative, this is our clear alternative," said Farron, speaking to the UK Press Association.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats leader called the Conservative government's commitment to resettling refugees "pitiful".

In the midst of a growing refugee crisis in Europe, in 2014 the UK launched a Syrian resettlement programme with the aim of taking in 20,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict by 2020.

Over 5,400 Syrian refugees were resettled in the UK by the end of 2016.

However, campaigners have called on the Conservative government to do more, and in February it was revealed that an additional scheme, titled the Dubs amendment, which aimed to help unaccompanied children migrants to the UK, was set to close.

At that time campaigners noted that the scheme, intended to resettle up to 3,000 vulnerable children in the UK, had settled only 200, with a further 150 set to arrive before its closure.

According to the Liberal Democrats, resettling an additional 50,000 refugees would cost an estimated £4.3bn.

"I don't want us to be the kind of country who turns our back on those in desperate need, this is about Britain doing it’s fair share," Farron said when questioned on the cost of such a resettlement program.

"It's not about taking all of the burden."

While Farron has visited refugee camps in Lesbos, Calais, and Macedonia, analysts also view his pledge as evidence the Liberal Democrats are attempting to refocus its election effort on Labour voters.

Since taking office last year, Prime Minister Theresa May has shrugged off calls from campaigners to re-evaluate current schemes to resettle more Syrian refugees, while stating that the Dubs amendment would be shut down as local authorities had reached the limits of their resources.

Instead, May said that the UK was making aid commitments to prevent Syrian refugees from seeking refuge in Europe.

"We have always taken the view that we can help more Syrian refugees by putting aid into the region," said May in comment to The Guardian in September last year.