The VPRS is set to restart in January 2021, having closed earlier this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. According to Home Office statistics, since 2015, 19,750 refugees have come to the UK under the resettlement scheme, just short of the 20,000 places that were promised after the catastrophic displacement caused by the Syrian war.
Churches and other refugee agencies are calling on the government to commit to receiving numbers of refugees beyond that original target. There are still thousands more refugees in need of help who do not qualify under the VPRS scheme. During the past few years, refugees and asylum seekers have been attempting to enter the UK illegally in lorries, trains and using dangerously small boats to cross the Channel. The Government is being urged to create more safe and legal routes for refugees in a bid to alleviate the crisis in the Channel and elsewhere, although even that might not stop exploitation of vulnerable people desperate for a better life by people-trafficking gangs.
Too many lives have been lost already by traumatised people driven to risk everything to reach safety in the UK. Please remember the Iranian Kurdish family who lost their lives at the end of October as they attempted to cross the English Channel in an inadequate too-small boat (Post of November 3rd).
Jesus said : Love your neighbour as yourself. (Luke 10.27)
Everyone is our neighbour, including refugees. Please pray that the UK will live up to its historic reputation as a safe haven for refugees and offer a welcome to those in need.
(See the article in the Church Times online November 19th for statement from church leaders re VPRS)