I am proud that the UK continues to be one of the world’s leading refugee resettlement states. Between 2016 and 2019, we resettled more refugees than any other in Europe, since 2015, the Government has resettled more than 25,000 vulnerable refugees in need of protection through our refugee resettlement schemes, with around half of those being children.
These refugees were resettled directly from conflict zones such as Syria, rather than safe European countries, like the previous ‘Dubs amendment’ did. I believe it is most important to prioritise those refugees in dangerous situations, not those already in Europe.
I welcome the fact that the Government already provides safe and legal routes for people seeking to reunite with their families. In the year ending June 2020, over 6,320 refugee family reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those previously granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK. Over 29,000 family reunion visas have been issued in the last 5 years. These very effective and fair rules will also apply from January 1st to relevant family members of UK refugees where the family member in an EU state, replacing the EU’s Dublin rules, unless an alternative agreement can be reached with the EU.
The Government has been clear that a negotiated reciprocal arrangement between the EU and the UK for the family reunion of unaccompanied children seeking asylum is the preferred approach. However, due to the importance of the issue, ministers have developed a plan if this preferred approach is not possible, in which case the Government will also seek new bilateral negotiations with key countries.