Hundreds of vulnerable Syrians to be given refuge in UK
Amnesty says move is 'long overdue' but polls suggest nearly half of voters are opposed
HUNDREDS of Syrian refugees will be allowed to settle in the UK over the next year, the Deputy Prime Minister has announced.
Nick Clegg last night confirmed that women and girls who have experienced or are at risk of sexual violence, torture victims and the elderly will be offered refuge in the country.
The Coalition has refused to commit to a quota, says The Times, but it is understood that several hundred refugees from the conflict in Syria will be accepted during the next 12 months.
"We are one of the most open-hearted countries in the world and I believe we have a moral responsibility to help," said Clegg.
The Deputy Prime Minister said Britain will not open its borders to all Syrian refugees, but added: "We can reach out to some of those who need it most."
The move was described as "long overdue" by Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, but she said that it was "never too late to do the right thing".
Allen told the BBC that the Government's line on allowing Syrian refugees to settle in the UK had been "shameful" so far, with "months of refusal and weak arguments".
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said that "compassion and common sense have won through".
However, the idea of offering refuge appears to be "unpopular with voters", says the Times. A YouGov poll last week suggested that 47 per cent of Britons are opposed to admitting several hundred Syrian refugees, while just 39 per cent are in favour.
The UK's resettlement programme is to be separate from an ongoing UN scheme, which has seen Germany commit to admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees. Britain will work with the UN to examine each applicant on a case-by-case basis, but the UK looks unlikely to join the UN's official resettlement scheme, which enforces targets.
Home Secretary Theresa May is expected to spell out more details of the Government's plan to MPs later today.