*** DEBUG END ***

Anyone fleeing conflict and persecution must know that they will find safety in the UK

18 November 2020

Chris Philp explains why the Government is to reopen the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme


Children in a refugee camp in Syria

Children in a refugee camp in Syria

I AM proud of our country’s historic and continued record in providing refuge to those fleeing conflict or persecution.

Since the European refugee crisis started, following the outbreak of the brutal civil war in Syria and instability in the Middle-East and North Africa, the UK has provided a safe haven to thousands of vulnerable families, individuals, and children, often with the support of the Church.

Our world-leading Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) has brought thousands of people to the UK to rebuild their lives. We have seen countless examples of refugees, rescued from this conflict zone, thrive on entering the UK, through working, studying, and supporting their local communities.

It was with great sadness that we, along with the UN and countries around the world, had to pause resettlement programmes (Comment, 4 September), owing to coronavirus restrictions brought in to protect public health, especially as we were so close to reaching our goal of resettling 20,000 people through the VPRS.

We have always said that we would reopen these routes when it is safe to do so. I am pleased that, last week, we announced that we are able to reopen the scheme, to enable us to meet this historic milestone and deliver our commitment.


SINCE September 2015, we have resettled more than 25,000 refugees, about half of whom are children. In that time, the UK has been among the top five resettlement countries worldwide, and has resettled more refugees from outside Europe than any EU member state.

But resettlement is not the only way in which we provide people with protection. In the year ending June 2020, 6320 refugee family-reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those previously granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK. And, since 2010, we have granted protection or another form of leave to more than 44,000 children.

This is where our immigration system needs to focus — on safe and legal routes to the UK. That is why the Home Secretary announced an overhaul of the system, to fix our broken asylum system and make sure that it is firm and fair.

It must be fair and work for the vulnerable, allowing refugees to thrive. And it must be firm, to crack down on abuse of the system, so that we can focus our time and efforts in supporting those who need our help the most.

It is also why we recently made a commitment to reviewing safe and legal routes to the UK.


REOPENING resettlement routes is by no means a silver bullet, and it will not stop people from making dangerous Channel crossings overnight. Even when we were resettling more refugees, people were entering the country on lorries and in small boats. Increasing safe routes will not stop ruthless people-smugglers exploiting vulnerable people’s desperation.

But, coupling this with our tougher approach to stopping boats, tackling spurious asylum claims, and increasing returns, we can start to fix our broken asylum system.

Anyone fleeing conflict and persecution must know that they will find safety here. That is why, in addition to completing our commitment under the VPRS, we hope to be able to roll out a new global resettlement scheme, as soon as the pandemic restrictions allow, to expand our offer to UN-mandated refugees from other regions of conflict and instability in the world.

The UK is a beacon of hope for the persecuted and displaced around the world, as it must continue to be for vulnerable people needing protection the world over.


Chris Philp MP is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts) at the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)