BRITAIN will resettle up to 20,000 refugees from Syria over the next four and a half years, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced.
Mr Cameron told the House of Commons that the UK would live up to its ‘moral responsibility’ towards the people forced from their homes by the forces of president Bashar Assad and the Islamic State terror group.
He said Britain would take in vulnerable refugees only from camps in the region, and not those who have crossed the Mediterranean into Europe in their thousands in recent months.
He also revealed the RAF had killed three terrorists from so-called Islamic State during a drone attack in Syria last month.
Speaking of the refugee crisis, Mr Cameron told MPs: ‘We are proposing that Britain should resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the rest of this parliament. In doing so, we will continue to show the world that this country is a country of extraordinary compassion, always standing up for our values and helping those in need.’
The Prime Minister said that vulnerable children and orphans would be prioritised in what would be a ‘truly national effort’.
We will continue to show the world that this country is a country of extraordinary compassion, always standing up for our values and helping those in needDavid Cameron, Prime Minister
He added that the international aid budget would be used to help councils house the refugees.
“The whole country has been deeply moved by the heartbreaking images we’ve seen over the past few days and it’s absolutely right that Britain should fulfil its moral responsibility to help those refugees, just as we’ve done so proudly throughout our history,’ Mr Cameron told the Commons.
“But in doing so we must use our head and our heart by pursuing a comprehensive approach that tackles the causes of the problem as well as the consequences.’
He said Britain had done more than any other EU country to provide aid - now totalling £1bn - to support refugees in Syria and neighbouring countries, and had moved quickly to provide Royal Navy ships for search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean.
“Without Britain’s aid to these camps, the numbers attempting the dangerous journey to Europe would be very much higher,” he told MPs.
Mr Cameron explained that the full cost of supporting the Syrian refugees would be met for the first year from the Government’s aid budget.
Responding to the PM’s statement, Labour leader Harriet Harman said that the government was doing the ‘right thing’ but questioned whether or not the UK could accept more than 4,000 refugees this year.
During his speech this afternoon, the PM also disclosed that two British fighters with Islamic State had been killed in a secretive RAF drone strike in Syria last month.
Mr Cameron told MPs that the drone strike was an ‘act of self-defence’ and followed intelligence that the fighters had been plotting a terrorist attacks on the UK.
The two British fighters killed in the operation were named as Cardiff-born Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin, from Aberdeen.
They were killed in the attack on August 21 in Raqqa and died alongside and another fighter, the PM told MPs.
Khan, 21, had been plotting ‘barbaric’ attacks on UK soil, the Prime Minister said.
Mr Cameron stressed that the aerial assault was lawful and necessary – despite MPs previously ruling out UK military action in Syria.
In a statement to MPs, Mr Cameron said: ‘My first duty as Prime Minister is to keep the British people safe.
‘There was a terrorist directing murder on our streets and no other means to stop him.
‘This government does not for one moment take these decisions lightly.
‘But I am not prepared to stand here in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on our streets and have to explain to the House why I did not take the chance to prevent it when I could have done.’