Resettled Syrians to be granted refugee status
On 22 March, the Home Secretary announced that Syrians admitted through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme (VPR) will now be granted refugee status. To date, VPR Syrians have been granted Humanitarian Protection.
Law Centre (NI) welcomes this announcement. At the outset of Northern Ireland’s participation in the VPR scheme, we highlighted how Humanitarian Protection would afford the Syrians fewer entitlements especially in the context of access to Further Education and entitlement disability benefits. We have worked constructively with Northern Ireland government departments to secure amendments to statutory guidance that facilitates access to VPR Syrians. We commend the Department for Communities and the Department for Economy for their approach.
However, despite the positive changes that Northern Ireland made, we continued to maintain that refugee status should be awarded to VPR Syrians. Refugee status provides access to a Travel Document that is cheaper and more widely accepted than that available for holders of Humanitarian Protection. In addition, refugee status is underpinned by the UN Refugee Convention and therefore is a term that has meaning in an international context. This change will mean that VPR Syrians will now have the same type of status as other Syrian refugees living in Northern Ireland.