David Cameron: ‘Britain will take in thousands more Syrian refugees’

Speaking during a visit to Portugal, the PM said Britain would act with “our head and our heart” in the resettlement of refugees.

He added that the UK was already “providing sanctuary” to around 5,000 refugees from the camps, and has given around £900 million in aid.

Cameron said Britain had a “moral responsibility” to help refugees, but didn’t specify exactly how many desperate people would be taken in.

“Given the scale of the crisis and the suffering of people, today I can announce that we will do more, providing resettlement for thousands more Syrian refugees”

David Cameron

He said: “We have already accepted around 5,000 Syrians, and we’ve introduced a specific resettlement scheme alongside those we already have to help those Syrian refugees particularly at risk.

“As I said earlier this week, we will accept thousands more under these existing schemes and we keep them under review.

“Given the scale of the crisis and the suffering of people, today I can announce that we will do more, providing resettlement for thousands more Syrian refugees.”

However he gave no indication that the government would resettle any of the hundreds of thousands of desperate people who have made treacherous Mediterranean crossings by boat to reach Europe.

“We will continue with our approach of taking them from the refugee camps,” he said. “This provides them with a more direct and safe route to the United Kingdom, rather than risking the hazardous journey which has tragically cost so many their lives.”

Asylum seekers crammed onto a train leaving Budapest

AFP/GETTY

DESPERATE: Asylum seekers crammed onto a train leaving Budapest

Undocumented migrants camping out in squalid conditions in Budapest

REUTERS

FLEEING: Undocumented migrants camping out in squalid conditions in Budapest

The announcement comes after increased pressure to take in migrants fleeing war-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The crisis will be debated in the Commons after a petition on parliament’s website gathered more than 100,000 signatures.

And around 11,000 people are expected to attend a demonstration held outside Downing Street on September 12.

Event organisers Stand Up to Racism said: “The government response to [the crisis] has been disgraceful. Unlike Germany, Italy and Greece, Britain has not offered a safe haven for these people.”

“Let’s send a strong message,” they added. “We say refugees are welcome here.”

Photos of Aylan Kurdi's body washed ashore sparked international outcry

AP

TRAGEDY: Photos of Aylan Kurdi’s body washed ashore sparked international outcry

Clothes of drowned refugees wash up on the shores of Turkey and Greece

XINHUA/EYEVINE

HEARTBREAKING: Clothes of drowned refugees wash up on the shores of Turkey and Greece

The stark reality of the humanitarian crisis was brought to the fore this week after a photograph of a drowned toddler sparked an international outcry.

Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, from Kobane in Syrian Kurdistan, died with his five-year-old brother Galip and mother Rehan while attempting to cross from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos.