This Is Local LondonCall to increase refugee numbers (From This Is Local London)

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Call to increase refugee numbers

This Is Local London: The UK has offered places to people fleeing states known for conflict or poor human rights records The UK has offered places to people fleeing states known for conflict or poor human rights records

The Government should increase the number of places it provided to refugees, a charity has said.

On the 10th anniversary of the UK resettling refugees under the UN's Gateway Protection Programme (GPP), the Refugee Council has urged the Government to do more to help vulnerable people around the world

Under the GPP system, the UK accepts up to 750 refugees from around the world every year for resettlement.

The Home Office said it has accepted more than 3,000 individuals under the GPP scheme since 2010.

Refugee Council chief executive Maurice Wren said: "Britain has a proud tradition of protecting refugees and in the last decade the UK Government has transformed thousands of lives through its resettlement programme.

"However, the UK and wider EU can and should increase the number of resettlement places they provide.

"Resettlement is a vital protection tool for refugees whose lives and liberty are at risk; a long term solution for refugees and an expression of solidarity with developing countries who host the majority of the world's refugees.

"We must do all we can to help. For some children, a resettlement place in the UK would give them their first ever night's sleep on a mattress in a real bed, access to running water and simply, the hope of a better future."

A handful of host communities take refugees, including Britain's first City of Sanctuary, Sheffield and the UK's next City of Culture, Hull.

The GPP scheme launched in 2002 but t he first group of refugees to arrive for resettlement in the UK were a group of Liberians, who arrived in the UK in 2004.

Since then, the UK has offered places to people fleeing states known for conflict or poor human rights records, including Somalia, Myanmar, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rose, a Liberian refugee, was resettled from Guinea in 2004. She is now a qualified nurse, working at the Sheffield Teaching Hospital.

She said: "I had to leave Liberia after my grandfather's village was attacked. Some of my relatives were killed. I lived in a refugee camp in Guinea for 12 years, it was depressing there.

"I've been very grateful to be able to come to the UK. I can't even compare it to my life in the refugee camp. Not only have I survived, but I've made the most of every opportunity I've had."

For 2014 alone, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates 691,000 refugees across the world are in need of resettlement.

Currently, EU Member States offer 5,500 resettlement places each year, with Sweden offering the most places at 1,900.

This is compared to 70,000 places offered by the United States, 7,100 places by Canada and 20,000 by Australia in 2012.

A Home Office spokesman said: " The UK has a proud history of granting protection to those who genuinely need it.

"We carefully consider every application for asylum and we operate one of the largest resettlement programmes in Europe for the most vulnerable refugees. Since 2010 more than 3,000 individuals have safely settled here through the Gateway Protection Programme.

"Further to this, the Home Secretary recently announced that the UK will provide emergency sanctuary for displaced Syrians who are particularly vulnerable, working closely with the UNHCR."

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