The first of 500 refugees to be offered protection in Britain this year under a new scheme run by the United Nations and the Home Office arrived in Sheffield yesterday.
Alan Travis, The Guardian, Mar. 23
The 19 refugees include some who fled Liberia during the 1989 civil war, many having survived torture, rape and the murder of relatives. They have been living in refugee camps in Guinea.
It is expected that about 500 refugees a year will come to Britain under the scheme after taking part in an orientation programme.
One woman who arrived yesterday was taken by rebels in Liberia at the age of 17 and held for several months, during which time she was sexually assaulted and beaten.
The home secretary, David Blunkett, said the scheme would provide a legal route for a small number of refugees to build a new life in the UK. “The people we are moving to safety have suffered horrific human rights abuses. They are survivors of torture, rape and murder and victims of long-term conflict. They have been trapped in a life of misery in the refugee camps of Guinea for more than a decade, where they remain exceptionally vulnerable.”
Maeve Sherlock, of the Refugee Council, welcomed the scheme. She said Britain had joined many other countries, including the US and the Netherlands, in participating in the scheme.