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British PM David Cameron extends hand to Syrian refugees

Jan. 29, 2014 at 10:50 AM   |   Comments

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LONDON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday his government would open its doors to the most vulnerable Syrian refugees.

Cameron told members of the House of Commons he wanted to address the needs of victims of war and sexual violence in Syria.

"We will act with the greatest urgency because, when it comes to Syria, we have acted with the greatest urgency throughout," he said in remarks published by the BBC.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates there are 2.3 million registered Syrian refugees. More than half of those are women and 23 percent of those are under the age of 18.

"We will be coming forward with a scheme to help the most needy people in those refugee camps and offer them a home in our country," the prime minister said.

The BBC reported the British resettlement program for Syrian refugees will be separate from the UNHCR's program. The British government said it would run a parallel program by coordinating with the UNHCR office in London.

The UNHCR said it wants to resettle about 30,000 particularly vulnerable Syrian refugees this year.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said during a Senate hearing last week the United States last year accepted 31 Syrian refugees. About 135,000 Syrian refugees have applied for asylum in the United States.

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