Bexhill and Battle MP: More help needed for Syrian refugees

Huw Merriman MP and Victoria Prentis MP with refugees at an education centre in a camp in Jordan SUS-160928-153610001
Huw Merriman MP and Victoria Prentis MP with refugees at an education centre in a camp in Jordan SUS-160928-153610001

The Bexhill MP is calling for more support for Syrian refugees after a week’s visit to a camp in Jordan.

Huw Merriman visited Za’atiri refugee camp, home to 80,000 Syrians, with Banbury MP Victoria Prentis through the charity, Save the Children.

Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman and Banbury MP Victoria Prentis at Save the Children's base at Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan SUS-160921-150310001

Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman and Banbury MP Victoria Prentis at Save the Children's base at Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan SUS-160921-150310001

The MP hailed the work done and UK aid spent in the Middle East but called for even more to help refugees who cannot leave Syria as the Jordan border is closed.

“There are tens of thousands of refugees who have recently fled Syria and are now stuck in a ‘no-mans’ land’ on the border, where so-called Islamic State fighters operate,” he said. “This is a harsh landscape and winter is fast approaching.

“It is too dangerous to directly transport aid so a bigger solution is required otherwise these people will perish.

“I am looking forward to meeting government ministers, and speaking up in Parliament, to ensure the Syrian refugees get our support.”

Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman and Banbury MP Victoria Prentis with a child refugee in Jordan SUS-160921-151826001

Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman and Banbury MP Victoria Prentis with a child refugee in Jordan SUS-160921-151826001

The MP also met the UK’s humanitarian aid programme head – more than £1bn has been spent on refugees in the area.

One of the aims for his trip was to test his belief the UK should be spending on refugees in the Middle East over those in Europe – he said he feels more informed after the visit.

“For those locally who believe we have a moral duty to help, I feel we are doing just that,” he said.

“For those who think we should be spending the money at home, we will spend even more should these refugees make for our shores.

Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman and Banbury MP Victoria Prentis at the airport before flying to the Jordanian capital Amman SUS-160921-150322001

Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman and Banbury MP Victoria Prentis at the airport before flying to the Jordanian capital Amman SUS-160921-150322001

“It is better for everyone that we support the Syrians in Jordan and other neighbouring countries so they can rebuild their country once order in Syria is recovered.”

Mr Merriman visited Save the Children’s education centres for Syrian children, many of whom have been unable to access a school for years due to the civil war in Syria.

Key aims of the trip for the MP were to determine; whether the UK aid programme is helping and delivering value for money; whether the UK should accommodate more refugees; and whether UK military action is making a difference.

On his return, the MP said he felt better informed on these issues.

“Za’atiri Camp has grown to become the world’s second largest refugee camp but it has been well planned and the residents have access to food and their own water supply. Food is purchased via vouchers meaning that aid is not wasted,” he said.

“Compared to the pictures we have seen from the camps in Calais, it is clean, well-organised and relatively free from squalor.

“When I spoke to refugees, many said that they do not want to travel to Europe, but in fact want to return home across the border to Syria when it is safe to do so. Syrians value the ethics of education and work.

“The decision between staying in Jordan and travelling to Europe appears to be based primarily on where they have the ability to work for a living and educate their children.

“The Jordanian government, following UK intervention and support, is now providing 200,000 work permits over three years and education for 50,000 Syrian children.”

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