Let Syrian refugees come to UK, says Jewish group

A UK-based Jewish group has backed a call to bring Syrian refugees to the UK.

Edie Friedman, head of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE), said that, after the Holocaust, the Syrian civil war “was one of the worst crises of our lifetime” .

Earlier this week, the Refugee Council, a leading UK charity working with refugees and asylum seekers, called for the UK to provide "a safe haven" for Syrians displaced by the war.

The UK governement has no plans to accept refugees, preferring to send financial aid to the region.

World Jewish Relief has raised more than £300,000 for Syrians in Jordanian refugee camps. But Dr Friedman believes that money is not enough.

She said: “We don’t want people to be living in a refugee camp – that’s not their comfort zone. People are living in cold conditions with little food and clothes.

“Many countries have contributed to the instability in Syria – the UK included. As a world community, the UK has a responsibility to help.

“When Syria is back in a normal state, people can go back.”

She said the Jewish community could empathise with the Syrian plight, as well as with the situation of Romanians and Bulgarians who are free to settle in the UK under EU regulations from January 1.

“UK Jews have a proud record of advocating on behalf of refugees,” she said.

“We are also economic migrants and have to remember certain newspapers are using certain rhetoric that they once used against Jews. They talk negatively about 'the other' – ‘they don’t speak English, they don’t want to integrate, they’re grabbing our jobs and using our health care system’ – in the same way they talked about Jews when we were 'the other' many years ago. We’ve seen it all before.”

Over two million people have become refugees as a result of the Syrian conflict. Over 15,000 places for temporary or permanent relocation of Syrian refugees has been pledged by Australia, Canada and 14 countries in Europe. According to the Refugee Council “around 0.1 per cent of Syrians fleeing the violence have found safety in the UK”.

Last updated: 2:53pm, January 2 2014