29 January 2014
The British Red Cross is ready to support 500 Syrian refugees set to be brought to the UK in a humanitarian evacuation.
The organisation’s 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 across the country, and is already helping more than 150 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 said.
“These people are suffering every single moment”
Syrian student Muhammad Eissa was forced to flee his home town of Ar Raqqah in 2012 when youths were being rounded up by armed men.
He said: “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. 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 has been instrumental in previous large-scale arrivals of refugees, including those from Kosovo and Bosnia in the 1990s.
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.