The UK is to provide resettlement to “thousands” more Syrian refugees in response to the worsening humanitarian crisis, David Cameron has announced.
He said the extra refugees would come from UN camps bordering Syria, and not from among people already in Europe. Britain would act with its “head and heart”, he said, as he pledged to find long-term solutions to the crisis.
The prime minister has previously said accepting more people was not the simple answer to the situation.
Speaking in Lisbon after talks with his Portuguese counterpart, Mr Cameron said the UK had a “moral responsibility” to help those displaced by the four-year conflict in Syria, adding that more details would be set out next week following discussions with organisations working in the region.
Calls for the UK to take in more refugees have intensified after the publication of a picture of the body of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, washed up a Turkish beach.
Speaking to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, the boy’s aunt, Tima Kurdi, said his and his brother’s death should be “a wake-up call for the whole world”.
Cameron isn’t changing his statement – he is still adamant that just opening the gates and reacting to heartstrings is not the solution, but, as the crisis gets worse and the public and political pressure grows, the prime minister does now accept that Britain has a moral duty to do more.
No targets have been agreed and none is likely to be set today – although Mr Cameron has talked of taking thousands more – but he is unlikely to satisfy his many critics who want Britain to take in tens of thousands of refugees and who have been outraged by his reluctance to act.
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