Over the decade Syria has remained the world’s largest refugee crisis and since 2011 more than 14 million Syrian refugees have been forced to leave their homeland in search of a safe place (Armbruster, 2019). In this research, there will be a discussion of the UK’s immigration policy regarding Syrian refugees.
Analysis and Discussion
Syria is a Middle Eastern country and the refugee crisis in the country began in 2011 as a result of the violent government crackdown on the public protest in support of teenagers who were arrested for creating anti-government graffiti in the southern town of Daraa. As the violent protests started all over Syria the government suppressed them with the security forces.
Although according to Çiğdem (2019), this incident escalated into a conflict that ultimately turned into civil war and it forced millions of Syrians to flee their country. For more than 12 years the conflict has been going on and more than 70% of the Syrian people who require humanitarian assistance are paying the price. Due to the civil war, more than 5.5 million Syrian nationals have to take asylums to neighboring countries including the UK.
According to Zotti (2021), one-way Syrian refugees came to the UK is as asylum seekers. By September 2016 there were 33380 total asylum applications in the UK and among those 2359 were Syrians. According to Goodman and Kirkwood (2019), given its geographical location, the number of applications in the UK to take asylum was lower than in European mainland countries such as Germany, Sweden, and many more. The Syrian refugees were resettled in the country under the Gateway Protection Programme but as they were the most vulnerable ones, they were settled under the VPRP scheme too.
Perreault and Paul (2019) stated that at the start the UK government had a very generous policy to help the fleeing Syrians with humanitarian help in neighboring countries rather than resettling them in the UK but in 2014 the UK government created the “Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme” which aimed to provide a route to the selected Syrians to come to the UK. According to Perreault and Paul (2019) At first, this scheme mostly prioritizes the disabled as well as the elderly, victims of torture, sexual violence, and many more but later it has been seen that there are a large number of Syrian people who are seeking asylum in the UK.
Thus, the UK government had to extend its VPRP policy in September 2015 to restore up to 20,000 Syrian people from different regions of the country. The UK government is working with the local authorities as well as voluntary groups to ensure that asylum seekers get proper assistance. Furthermore, to help the Syrian people to integrate into UK society the UK government launched Community sponsorship schemes in 2016.
According to Sakib and Ishraque Osman (2020), at first, the resettled Syrians were given humanitarian protection status for five years and they had permission to work as well as access public funds in the UK. Although on 22 March 2017 the Home Secretary of the UK government announced that from the 1st July 2017, the people admitted under the VPRP program will be granted refugee status they also added that the refugee status does not carry the same entitlement as the humanitarian protection status. The UK government provided Syrian asylum seekers with different facilities such as easier access to different student support programs in higher education as well as refugee travel documents which will be recognized internationally.
According to Pollard and Howard (2021), Syrians can claim asylum upon arrival or after entry into the UK. 86% of the initial Syrian asylum seekers were permitted to stay in the UK. The UK government as well as the different humanitarian organisations worked with the UK people to ensure that the Syrian people get a chance to integrate into their life in the UK. Different organizations such as Refugee Council, and Refugee Action. World Jewish Relief, Amnesty International, and many more have worked at the forefront in providing support as well as resources to the Syrian refugees.
In 2016 over 200 faith leaders in the UK signed an open letter to the UK prime minister that they offer sanctuary to refugees in the UK. On the other hand, due to the immigration policies, the UK government had been forced by the UK people to leave the EU and it impacted the immigration policy with the Syrian people largely. According to Karyotis et al. (2021), after and before Brexit different research has shown that there is a mixed attitude in the UK towards immigrants. Some of the UK people are welcoming immigrants whereas many are showing signs of fear.
According to Neureiter (2022), while there is an environment of mistrust in the UK government regarding the handling of the immigrant situation a large number of UK people are not interested in reading the immigration at any cost, as per the poll done by BBC it has been seen that around 56% of the UK citizens have supported the efforts to accept the refugees from countries like Syria and placing them in the community after they arrive in the UK.
On the other hand, Romano (2019) stated that islamophobia might influence people’s attitudes toward Syrian immigrants in the UK. To support the Syrian refugees in the UK the UK government did take many steps which include a helpline for the refugees so that they can register any issue they are facing regarding Xenophobia, Islamophobia, terrorism, and many more.
According to Lippard and McNamee (2021), UNHCR believes that the VPRS has offered a lifeline to 2000 refugees in the UK who were the victims of the Syrian crisis. They also added that this program has helped the Syrian refugees to rebuild their lives safely in the UK. Although there are different challenges that the Syrian refugees are facing in the UK and the bad condition of the refugee camps are one among them. In addition, according to Goodman and Narang (2019), many UK people are not supporting the immigration policy of the UK and that has led to conflict with the local people.
Furthermore, many of the refugees still fear that they will be sent home if there is any question regarding their immigration status as well as the documentation. As they have fled the country due to the war many of these refugees do not have proper documentation and they face challenges in the UK. Moreover, many of the refugees stated that due to a lack of formal education as well as a skill they have not been able to find any employment in the UK.
According to Goodman and Narang (2019), due to unemployment as well as bad living conditions, the crime rate, as well as the mortality rate among Syrian refugees in the UK, is high. In addition, as there is a large number of Syrian refugees leaving the UK neighbourhoods there is a large amount of pressure on the UK government as well as the local people to ensure that there is enough food as well as work to sustain the people.
On the other hand, different issues are affecting the UK government’s generosity to the Syrian refugees, and smuggling racketing as well as other small illegal businesses is one of them. Many of the local people have argued that the lack of strictness in the UK immigration policy had led to anti-social activities in the neighbors containing immigrant people. Furthermore, the number of children in the workplace has grown too.
On the other hand, according to Ozdora-Aksak et al. (2021), many UK locals have complained that due to a large number of refugees in the neighborhood, their culture, as well as language and lifestyle, have seen significant changes. In addition, due to the large waves of Syrian refugees, the urban areas in the UK are overcrowded. According to Araman and Loutfi (2019), due to the complaints from the local people as well as the high crime rate the UK government did give some sensations to the Syrian refugees.
As per this guideline, the UK government did provide some flexibility to the refugees. For instance, as per these guidelines, if any Syrian refugee is unable to provide their full documentation under the category, they are applying they can enlist their reason for not being able to.
According to Shankley and Byrne (2020), due to the unrest in the region, many of the Syrian refugees were unable to produce their document or list it, thus, they might let the UK government know why they are unable to provide the document and if the home ministry is satisfied with it, they will be permitted to stay under the category of either application. Although on the 31st December 2020, the UK government expired those concession guidelines.
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