First Syrian refugees arrive in UK under new scheme

The first group of Syrian refugees will arrive in the UK today under the government's newly expanded resettlement scheme, the BBC reports.

The group of around 100, thought to be mainly families, will arrive in Glasgow Airport and be resettled by local authorities around Scotland. It is the first in a series of chartered flights carrying refugees from camps in countries near Syria to the UK.

The group consists only of those willing to undertake a two-stage security screening process as the Home Secretary Theresa May allayed fears the refugees posed a security threat.

Since the start of the year, over 590,000 people have already crossed into Greece, but David Cameron insists the mos vulnerable are in refugee camps around Syria.Reuters

"We have processes in place. There are two levels of screening that take place," May told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

"First of all, we are taking people directly from the camps. We are working with UNHCR who take biometrics, look at documents, interview people and do their own process of screening against issues like war crimes and serious criminality.

"Then there is a further check that is done once people are referred to the UK. The Home Office then undertakes further checks, further biometrics are taken."

The refugees arrive as part of the government's vulnerable persons resettlement (VPR) scheme and will join others who receive legal protection, access to housing, employment, education and medical care.

As the scale of the refugee crisis grew over the summer, the government promised to expand the scheme to take 20,000 refugees by 2020 and 1,000 by the end of this year.

Instead of accepting people who have already made the journey to Europe, Prime Minister David Cameron announced the scheme would resettle those in refugee camps in countries near Syria such as Jordan and Lebanon as they are the most vulnerable.

"Of course we are taking people direct from camps and that means we are taking some of the most vulnerable people," May told Marr.

Under the scheme, refugees are given humanitarian protection for five years after which they can apply to settle in the UK.

In order to meet its target of 20,000 by 2020, the government will have to resettle 400 refugees per month. Before the scheme was expanded, just under 5,000 Syrians were granted asylum in the UK over the past four years.