‘Slow’ response to resettlement plan

A scheme to resettle up to 500 refugees a year in the UK has helped
only 69 people since the government agreed to take part in 2003, it
has been revealed.

A Home Office spokesperson refused to confirm reports that only a
few councils had been prepared to co-operate with the gateway
protection programme, operated jointly with the United Nations, but
admitted that take-up had been “slow”.

It involves the safe transfer of refugees from their country of
asylum to another one that has previously agreed to take them. So
far, only Sheffield Council has agreed to take 69 refugees from
Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The spokesperson said the government had identified a further 80
refugees who would arrive before the end of this year with more
next year.

Meanwhile, West Sussex Council is bracing itself for the arrival of
a further 90 British citizens from the Indian Ocean islands of
Diego Garcia over the next two weeks.

The council fears it will have to pick up the £500,000 bill
for supporting the islanders, 100 of whom have been living in West
Sussex since 2002, and cut services. It follows confusion over
whether it or central government is responsible for their welfare.

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