A reported 55% of the Syrians who have been given protection in the UK under the Syrian resettlement programme are torture survivors, according to the National Audit Office. The NAO report, a review of the progress of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (VPRS), highlights concerns of human rights charity Freedom from Torture that these vulnerable people are not able to access specialist help so that they can begin a journey of rehabilitation and rebuilding their shattered lives. Freedom from Torture provided input to the report after raising repeatedly with the former minister for Syrian refugees the need to ensure that all of those resettled under this scheme can access specialist support including torture rehabilitation.
Without these services it can be difficult for survivors to address the trauma they have faced and to access other opportunities that are being provided, such as English language lessons. Since the launch of the scheme we have received only a few referrals for resettled Syrians and we are concerned that many more are being resettled in areas where they cannot access support. Our concerns are shared by local authorities, which highlighted that those refugees with physical or mental health needs require substantial support, especially in the long-term, which is not covered by existing funding arrangements.