Kingston MP slams suggestion government doing ‘virtually nothing’ to help Syrian refugees

Britain’s response to the refugee crisis has been praised by James Berry MP, who said his Kingston upon Thames constituency has ‘led the way’.

After David Cameron announced earlier this month that the UK would take 20,000 refugees by 2020, there has been much criticism concerning the government’s eagerness to accept displaced people.

However Mr Berry has spoken of how his constituency has been welcoming of refugees, predating the height of the crisis earlier this year.

He said: “In Kingston, we have led the way in welcoming Syrian refugees.

“Council leader Kevin Davis offered to host 50 Syrian refugees as long ago as October 2014 and called on other councils to do the same.

“This is no knee jerk reaction to the recent shocking image of Aylan Kurdi, either on my part or on Kingston Council’s.”

Many critics have pointed to Germany’s projected refugee intake, which is set to reach 800,000 by the end of 2015, as evidence that the British government is not doing enough to help refugees.

Mr Berry believes that it is the financial aid Britain has contributed to the crisis that needs to be highlighted.

Mr Berry said: “No European country has provided as much aid as Britain, and David Cameron has announced a further £100 million in humanitarian aid.

“Were it not for this generous aid, the numbers making the perilous journey to Europe today would be even higher.”

Britain is currently the second largest bilateral aid donor in responding to the Syrian humanitarian crisis, with only the United States giving more.

According to the financial tracking service, the UK has given £918 million in aid, and with the prime minister’s recent pledge of a further £100 million, the total is set to exceed the £1 billion mark.

This figure is significantly higher than the £633 million given by Germany and far greater than that provided by France (£70 million) and Spain (£21 million).

It is these statistics that Mr Berry believes are being ignored by large sections of the media, and arguments that the UK is doing barely anything inaccurate.

The MP said: “A number of comments in the media have suggested that the British Government is doing virtually nothing […] but this is accusation is simply not true.”

Mr Berry went on to discuss Britain’s tradition of providing a safe haven for people displaced by war or persecution, pointing to support given to Ugandan Indians expelled by Idi Amin in 1972 as an example.

He stressed the need to adhere to that tradition when he said: “To maintain the integrity of our asylum system and ensure it is fair to everyone, the system must be suitably robust.

“But in my view the system must also be sufficiently flexible to take account of developing refugee crises.”

If you are interested in housing a Syrian refugee in Kingston, please email [email protected] or call 020 8547 5412

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