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UK could extend target to rehouse 20,000 Syrian refugees

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media captionHome secretary Amber Rudd said resettling Syrians was an important commitment

The government is considering whether the UK should agree to resettle more refugees from the Syrian war, once it hits its target of bringing in 20,000 by 2020, the home secretary has said.

Amber Rudd said that 10,538 people have already been granted refuge under the Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme.

The 2020 target was set by David Cameron in 2015.

Speaking in Lebanon, Ms Rudd said she was already holding talks about what would follow when it was met.

During a trip to a refugee camp on Monday, which could not be reported at the time, Ms Rudd said: "20,000 is definitely achievable by 2020, and I hope that we may get there earlier than that in fact.

"At the moment I am consulting with stakeholders and really engaging with other departments to decide what we should have to replace that when we go forward after 2020."

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She visited an informal tented settlement in Qab Elias, a Lebanese town about 15 miles from the Syrian border, where she met some of the 46 families staying there.

Ms Rudd said Britain was one of the largest donors to help with Syria's refugee crisis, having committed £2.46bn in funding since 2012.

She spoke as Syrian bombing has killed scores of civilians during the past few days in the rebel-held area of Eastern Ghouta.

image copyrightPA
image captionMs Rudd met 46 families - some 200 people - staying at the camp in Lebanon
image copyrightPA

Ms Rudd added that the British public should be "proud" of what the VPRS had achieved, saying: "It is the largest number of any European country of resettlement from the region.

"People have been very kind about saying how effective it is and how good the care is when people get to the local authority."

The first year of a refugee's resettlement costs are funded by the government using the overseas aid budget.

media captionDavid Cameron: "It is right we should do much more"

Mireille Girard, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Lebanon, said the UK had done "very well" in helping rehouse refugees.

She said: "We are very grateful for that, you have taken a remarkable number of people - we are reaching 10,000 this year - but still it is a drop in the sea compared to what is needed.

"We will need the UK to do more and we will need all countries to contribute to this programme."

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