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Record number of Syrians resettled in UK in first three months of 2017

A man checks the damage at the mountain resort town of Zabadani in the Damascus countryside, Syria (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
A man checks the damage at the mountain resort town of Zabadani in the Damascus countryside, Syria (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

A record number of Syrians were resettled in the UK during the first three months of 2017, new figures show.

Some 1,601 Syrians were welcomed to Britain between January and March under the Government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS).

It is the highest number for any three-month period since the scheme began in January 2014.

A total of 7,307 people have so far been granted humanitarian protection under the programme.

Around a quarter have been resettled in Scotland – the highest proportion for any nation and region of the UK.

In the 12 months to March 2017, half of those resettled were under 18 years old.

During the last parliament, the Conservative government committed to using the scheme to resettle up to 20,000 people from the Syrian region by 2020.

All Syrians welcomed to the UK under the VPRS to date have been given humanitarian protection status for a period of five years, with permission to work and access public funds.

In March 2017, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced a change to this policy, meaning that from July 1 2017 all those admitted to the UK under the scheme would be granted refugee status.

Syrians resettled before that date are to be given the opportunity to request a switch from humanitarian protection to refugee status.

Explaining the change, Ms Rudd said it would give those Syrians resettled through the scheme the same entitlements as Syrian nationals who had separately claimed asylum in the UK, such as eligibility for particular benefits and swifter access to student support for those in higher education.