Local MP Sandra Osborne raised the plight of Syrian refugees at the Council of Europe meeting in Strasbourg last week. Addressing the Parliamentary Assembly she said:
'This is an unprecedented crisis and the plight of the most vulnerable refugees who will find it most difficult to cope in the camps in the region must be urgently addressed. It is clear that donor countries in addition to providing economic and technical assistance to the host countries in the region need to show willingness to undertake and/or expand resettlement and
humanitarian admission programmes, in cooperation with UNHCR
It is to the credit of around 17 member states of the Council of Europe including Germany, Sweden and France, that they have offered places under the UNHCR'S Resettlement and Humanitarian Admission of Syrian Refugees programme
Until today the UK Government had refused to offer a single place but have now announced a willingness to take a limited number faced by a defeat in the UK Parliament later today.
The UK has however provided a total of 600 million pounds support to the crisis- the second largest donor - which is obviously welcome and this includes 9.6million pounds to partners working in Syria and the region helping women at risk of or recovering from violence and sexual violence. They have today announced that they will prioritise providing sanctuary in the UK to survivors of torture and violence and high risk women and children in parallel with the UNHCRs Syria Humanitarian Admission Programme.
A recent International Rescue report on Syria notes that as well as sexual violence there have been accounts of women trading sex for food and desperate families selling their girls in to early marriage to reduce household numbers or pay rent, and that domestic violence in refugee communities is often exacerbated by the economic stress and poor living conditions.
Accordingly we must broaden our support for women and girls in emergency situations to include the full range of gender based abuses that displaced women and women in conflict experience.
And when making funding decisions donors should insist that UN agencies, NGOs and others make violence against women and girls a priority in their programmes.'