Palestinian Refugees from Syria in the UK
by Lana Ramadan*
Photo: Protesters urge the British government to do more to help Syrian refugees during a protest in Parliament Square, London, July 2015. (Frank Augstein/AP)
As in other European countries, the UK responded to the Syrian crisis by giving humanitarian aid and setting up a resettlement scheme for Syrians. However, the UK excluded Palestinian refugees from Syria from the resettlement scheme and did not provide them with the same treatment as Syrian nationals. Instead, Palestinian refugees from Syria seeking asylum in the UK go through the asylum application process just like any other Palestinian seeking asylum from countries other than Syria. This article will highlight the UK’s asylum and resettlement frameworks, explain its policies in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, and show how Palestinian refugees from Syria are not receiving equal protection in the UK.
The Asylum Framework
According to UK law, an asylum seeker is a person who has applied for asylum and is still awaiting a decision on whether he will be granted refugee status or not. An applicant may also be granted permission to remain in the UK for humanitarian or other reasons, if they do not qualify for refugee status. The number of asylum applications that reached the UK in 2015 was 32,733, of which 64 percent resulted in refusals.
As for resettlement, it is "the organized movement of selected refugees from their first country of asylum to a third country for settlement and integration." In the UK, the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, Section 59, provides the legal context for resettlement in the UK. The UK’s resettlement program, implemented in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), offers the possibility for up to 750 refugees to be resettled in the UK each year.
Refugees from Syria who managed to reach the UK did so either by applying for asylum or through resettlement programs, which are two different and separate systems. Between 2012 and 2015, 5,457 Syrian nationals were granted asylum in the UK, and in 2015 "Syrian nationals were the fourth largest group claiming asylum in the UK” with 2,204 applicants. In addition, 1,194 Syrian refugees were resettled in the UK that same year.
UK response to the Refugee Crisis
Up to 2014, the UK's government policy in response to the Syrian refugee crisis was to give humanitarian aid to Syria's neighboring countries as opposed to accepting Syrian refugees for resettlement in the UK. However, the UK changed their policy after the recent encouragement from the UNHCR to use resettlement as a protection tool in response to the Syrian crisis. Thus, in early 2014 the UK government established the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Program (VPR) to provide selected Syrians with the opportunity to come to the UK. This program gave priority to victims of sexual violence and torture, and the elderly and disabled. In 2015, the UK extended the scheme to include a plan to resettle up to 20,000 refugees from Syria over the next five years. The refugees selected for resettlement are given five years Humanitarian Protection status, which gives them access to public funds and permission to work.
The UK's Vulnerable Person Resettlement Program defines resettlement as the selection and transfer of refugees from one state to another for the purpose of finding protection. This new scheme resettled 1,194 Syrians in the UK in 2015. However, Palestinian refugees from Syria are not included in the program. To this day, no Palestinian refugee from Syria has been resettled in the UK. Richard Harrington, the previous Secretary of State for Syrian Refugees stated:
Since Palestinian refugees from Syria are registered in the UK system like any other Palestinian, there is no way to determine the numbers of Palestinian refugees from Syria coming to the UK. In fact, on their application registration cards, their nationality is recorded as Palestinian Authority or PSE (Palestine). The statistics provided by the UK Home Office treat Palestinian applicants as a collective without taking country of residence into account. In recent years the number of pending Palestinian applications and detained asylum applicants has been increasing. For example, in 2015 around 600 applications of Palestinian nationals are still pending decisions. According to international conventions, both Syrians and Palestinians fleeing Syria constitute forcibly displaced persons and refugees. However, the tables below show that it was only recently that a very small number of Palestinian refugees received some protected status in the UK.
BADIL sheds light on the plight of Palestinian refugees from Syria within the UK in new film
BADIL Resource Center is pleased to announce the release of our latest film production, ‘Fleeing the Same War’, an international production that examines the British government’s policies and actions in relation to the emergency state of Palestinian refugees from Syria. Logicants.com - programavimo paslaugos ir mobiliosios aplikacijos
|Total Pending||Total withdrawals||Total refusals||Grants of DL||Grants of HP||Grants of asylum||Total grants||Total Initial Decisions||Total applications||Year|
|448||9||48||0||0||16||17||65||102||Quarter 1,2,3 of 2016|
|Child Asylum Detainees||Adult Asylum Detainees||Total Palestinian Detainees||Year|
|0||20||21||Quarter 1,2,3 of 2016|
*Lana Ramadan is a researcher at BADIL Resource Center. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Law and Human Rights from al-Quds Bard College, and a Master’s Degree in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
 Andrew Miller and Cynthia Orchard, "Protection in Europe for refugees from Syria," Refugee Studies Center University of Oxford, 2014, 65. "The main criterion for DFT cases is that they can be decided quickly. Particularly vulnerable applicants, such as pregnant women, those with mental and physical health problems, or those who were trafficked, are excluded from the DFT scheme. With the short time limit, the applications considered in DFT procedures should not have a level of complexity where legal advice, corroborative evidence or translation of documents is required. DFT cases have notoriously high refusal rates."