29 January 2014
For further information contact:
Nichola Jones 0207 877 7618/ NJones@redcross.org.uk
On call mobile: 0771 0391703
The British Red Cross is on standby to support the Syrian refugees set to be evacuated to the UK.
British Red Cross chief executive Sir Nick Young said:
"The horrific humanitarian situation on the ground in Syria has forced millions of people to flee their homes, placing immense pressure on the border countries offering protection. The UK has a long history of providing sanctuary to those escaping violence and persecution and the British Red Cross welcomes the government's decision to honour this proud tradition through a resettlement programme.”
The British Red Cross supports 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers in the UK every year through 48 centres nationwide and is already assisting hundreds of Syrians. Its trained volunteers help with family reunion applications, orientation and destitution support.
"As one of this country's main sources of support for refugees and asylum seekers, we stand ready to assist those Syrian families when they arrive,” Sir Nick added.
The organisation has been instrumental in previous large-scale arrivals of refugees, including those from Kosovo and Bosnia in the 1990s.
Health and social care student Muhammad Eissa was forced to flee his home town of Ar Raqqah in 2012 when youths from his area were being rounded up by armed men.
“I did not want to leave my home but I had no choice - I knew that if I stayed, I would be killed or forced to fight,” he said.
"I was able to escape but many of my friends were not so fortunate.”
The 24-year-old, who has been granted asylum and lives in Birmingham, said:
"The UK government's decision is so important. You cannot imagine the difference it will make to those most vulnerable people trapped in this terrible war.
“These people are suffering every single moment and they don’t know what the future holds – whether they will live or whether they will die.”
The British Red Cross continues to call for unfettered humanitarian access within Syria and is supporting the work of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
SARC and Red Cross partners are able to reach 3 million people each month with aid but up to 9 million remain in desperate need.
“The British Red Cross is proud of its unique position in this case – as we support our colleagues in Syria and the border countries, we will be providing urgently needed assistance for those refugees who are resettled in the UK,” said Sir Nick.
For case studies and spokesmen, please contact Nichola Jones 0207 877 7618 or NJones@redcross.org.uk
The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.