Changes to VPR humanitarian scheme welcomed

Changes to VPR humanitarian scheme welcomed

Scottish Refugee Council welcomes the news that the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme, which was originally set up for vulnerable people fleeing conflict in Syria, will be extended to other nationalities in need.

The Home Office also confirmed that people chosen under the scheme will be granted full refugee status.

Until an announcement in March this year, arrivals under the VPR scheme were given humanitarian protection status, which limited their rights, such as the ability to travel to see other family members displaced by war.

Interim Chief Executive Gary Christie said: “This is very welcome news, which will make a big difference to some of the people who need it the most – people who have experienced severe injury or trauma, regardless of nationality.”

“We would also like to see safe and legal routes for other men, women and often children fleeing war and terrible persecution, so that everyone who needs and has the right to safety is able to reach it. Too many people are still losing their lives taking incredible risks to get to safe shores where they can rebuild their lives.”

Scottish Refugee Council has also raised major concerns about the time limitation now put on refugee status. Formally recognised refugees in the UK will see their cases reviewed after five years, which is likely to have a detrimental effect on their psychological security as they live under fear of being sent home to face danger

At the time of that announcement, Scottish Refugee Council Head of Integration Wafa Shaheen, at Scottish Refugee Council said:

"This threat of removal from the UK despite being granted refugee protection will hang extremely heavily over people who are already living with huge amounts of ongoing anxiety. It will be particularly difficult for families and parents doing their best to raise their children here despite deep insecurity about their futures. How do you plan for your child's future or support them through their education when the Home Office threatens to remove you from the country after five years?”

"This policy shift is also a huge step backwards for all of us committed to supporting well integrated communities. Employers and education providers may be less likely to take refugees on if they suspect that people will only be here temporarily, with negative and avoidable consequences all round."