Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to take in up to 20,000 Syrian refugees from camps over the next five years, responding to a growing public demands for the government to help those fleeing civil war and Islamic State.
In a statement to the House of Commons he said “We are proposing that Britain should resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refuges 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.”
Vulnerable children and orphans will be the priority.
The statement came after increasing public pressure for action following the photograph of a Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi lying dead on a Turkish beach prompted a global outpouring of empathy for all those involved in the situation.
Harriet Harman, acting Leader of the Labour Party asked if this meant the UK would only be taking 4,000 this year.
Cameron also announced that British security services foiled six different Islamic State terror plots in the UK in the last year, and that action was taken in Syria using an RAF unmanned drone to kill British Islamic State fighters, Junaid Hussain and Reyaad Khan, who were planning an attack on the UK.
On the matter he said, “We should be under no illusion. Their intention was the murder of British citizens. So on this occasion we ourselves took action.”
“We took this action because there was no alternative. In this area, there is no government we can work with. We have no military on the ground to detain those preparing plots. And there was nothing to suggest that Reyaad Khan would ever leave Syria or desist from his desire to murder us at home. So we had no way of preventing his planned attacks on our country without taking direct action.”
This comes on the same day as France announce they will begin air reconnaissance in Syria with a view to planning airstrikes following intelligence that Islamic State are planning attacks against several countries including France.