Background: On 7 September 2015 the Prime Minister announced a significant expansion of the Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme to resettle up to 20.000 Syrian Refugees over the course of the current UK Parliament. The scheme will resettle displaced refugees who are currently living in camps in countries neighbouring Syria, principally Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. It does not extend to asylum seekers in Europe or in countries such as Libya. The First Minister and Deputy First Minister signalled to the UK Government their willingness to welcome some of the most vulnerable refugees here under the VPR scheme to NI.
The VPR scheme is based on need. It prioritises those who cannot be supported effectively in their region of origin: women and children at risk, people in severe need of medical care and survivors of torture and violence. Those accepted through the scheme will be granted five years humanitarian protection status and will have access to employment and public funds and rights to family reunion comparable to other refugees. At the end of five years, if individuals are not able to return to Syria, they may be eligible to apply for resettlement in the UK.
Consortium: The Consortium is a Voluntary and Community Sector response designed to meet the objectives as set out in the DSD (Department for Social Development) plan for Refugees under VPR. The Consortium will therefore design and deliver their services underpinned by a collaborative approach so as to ensure:
· That Syrian refugees coming to Northern Ireland are treated with respect and dignity upon arrival;
· That within two weeks of arrival essential services from the voluntary and community sector and their statutory partners are provided to newly arrived Syrian refugees in an efficient, effective and sensitive manner;
· That Syrian Refugees are assisted to settle into their new lives in Northern Ireland and successfully integrate into Northern Ireland society;
· In conjunction with central and local government ensure that the general public and in particular those communities that will be called upon to host Refugees are prepared and kept informed of the process.
Consortium partner organisations:
· Bryson Intercultural (lead organisation)
· British Red Cross
· Save the Children
· Law Centre (NI)
· South Belfast Roundtable