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 resettled displaced refugees who were living in countries neighbouring Syria, principally Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. It did not extend to asylum seekers in Europe or in countries such as Libya. The NI Executive signalled to the UK Government their willingness to welcome some of the most vulnerable refugees here under the VPR scheme to N. Ireland. The scheme has now been extended to resettle other refugees who have fled their region of origin.
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 have been initially granted five years humanitarian protection. After they have been in the UK for five years, these individuals may be eligible to apply to the Home Office for permanent resettlement in the UK if they are not able to return to their region of origin.
Since 1st July 2017, those accepted through the scheme have been granted full refugee status. All refugees who arrived in the UK under the VPR scheme will have access to employment and public funds and rights to family reunion.
Northern Ireland’s response is led by the Department for Communities (DfC) which works with a number of organisations to put in place the arrangements to resettle the refugees here, including housing, healthcare and education. The Department has also appointed a consortium of community and voluntary sector organisations with relevant experience in working with refugees and new entrants to operationally assist with the resettlement programme for refugees in NI.
Consortium: The Consortium is a Voluntary and Community Sector response designed to meet the objectives as set out in the Department for Communities (DfC) plan for Refugees under VPR. The Consortium will therefore design and deliver their services underpinned by a collaborative approach so as to ensure:
Consortium partner organisations:
Northern Ireland Refugee Resettlement Consortium funded by the Department for Communities