Syrian refugee crisis Contents


1.Prior to the outbreak of conflict in Syria, the Middle East region was a minor recipient of UK development assistance. Yet the civil war and the consequent humanitarian crisis have resulted in a substantial increase in the share of UK Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) spent in the region. In 2011, countries in the Middle East region received less than 0.3% of total UK bilateral ODA, compared with 8.2% in 2014.1 Of the estimated Syrian population of 21.5 million, 4.3 million have fled to neighbouring states and depend on the support of these countries and the international community to survive. Within Syria itself, 13.5 million are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.2 It has been estimated that Syria’s development has been set back by almost four decades as a direct result of the crisis.3

2.The situation in the region has been widely labelled as the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War4 and is likely to worsen with displacement continuing within Syria and throughout the region.5 The UK has reacted with its largest financial response to a humanitarian crisis in history, allocating over £1.1 billion since 2012.6 As such we decided that scrutinising the UK’s response was a major priority for this Committee in its first report of the Parliament.

3.In September 2015, the Government announced that it would accept up to 20,000 Syrian refugees to be taken directly from the Middle East for resettlement in the UK over the course of this Parliament with 1,000 received by the end of 2015. The announcement signified a substantial scaling up of the pre-existing programme, the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (VPRS), which was established in March 2014, and by mid-2015 had accepted 216 Syrian refugees for resettlement.

4.Our inquiry follows on from the previous Committee’s inquiry into “UK Support for Humanitarian Relief in the Middle East” in 2014, with the key difference being the focus on resettlement of the most vulnerable.7 We invited written evidence on the following issues:

2 John Ging, Director of Coordination and Response Division, OCHA (SRC0033)

4 World Food Programme (SRC0025) para 1

7 International Development Committee, First Report of Session 2014–15, UK Support for Humanitarian Relief in the Middle East, HC 248

© Parliamentary copyright 2015

Prepared 21 December 2015