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David Cameron has been accused of "political posturing" after the Government confirmed plans to accept "several hundred" of the most vulnerable refugees from the Syrian conflict in a bid to head off a damaging backbench revolt.
The change of heart by the coalition - confirmed by Home Secretary Theresa May in a Commons statement ahead of an opposition day debate on the issue - was broadly welcomed by MPs on all sides of the House.
Tory backbencher Andrew Bridgen said Britain had already donated £600 million - more than the rest of the EU put together - and that admitting a few hundred people would make little difference to such a vast refugee crisis.
"It is pure political posturing and tokenism. I think that people can see the political expediency of the u-turn," he told BBC Radio 4's The World at One.
The UN Refugee Agency in the UK has welcomed the Government's plans to provide refuge to the "most vulnerable" Syrians.
In a statement to the House of Commons, Home Secretary Theresa May said the UK would not be signing up to a quota scheme because "we want to focus our assistance on the most vulnerable people".
UNHCR's Representative to the UK, Roland Schilling, said: "We welcome the announcement of the UK government to provide refuge to some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees, in cooperation with UNHCR.
“This decision will help to provide much needed solutions for vulnerable Syrian refugees many of whom have been deeply traumatised and face immense hardship.
"It is also a concrete and important gesture of solidarity and burden sharing with the countries neighbouring Syria as they continue to bear the brunt of the refugee crisis."
Home Secretary Theresa May has outlined the Government's plan to help the most vulnerable Syrians find safety in the UK.
She told the House of Commons: "Our country has a proud tradition of providing protection to those in need. And where there are particularly difficult cases of vulnerable refugees, who are at grave risk, we are ready to look at those cases."
She added: "The Government will be launching a new programme to provide emergency sanctuary in the UK for displaced Syrians who are particularly vulnerable."
Home Secretary Theresa May has told the House of Commons the scale of the Syrian refugee crisis is "immense".
She said: "The greatest contribution we can make is to work to end the conflict altogether, using UK diplomacy and our international influence to support the negotiations taking place in Geneva."
She added the the Government's goal was that of a "peaceful settlement" and that the £600m already given to the Syrian relief effort was the UK's largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis.
The Labour whips' office in the House of Commons has tweeted that the Home Secretary will make a statement about Syrian refugees today at 12.30pm before Prime Minister's Questions:
Britain is to take in some of the most vulnerable refugees from the Syrian civil war.
The most vulnerable refugees include:
- Torture victims
- Abandoned children
- Victims of sexual assaults
The UK is not signing up to take a quota of refugees under the United Nations sanctuary scheme to resettle up to 30,000 vulnerable Syrians in Western nations, but Nick Clegg said the UN High Commission for Refugees backs the Government's plans.
Britain's decision to resettle some of the "most vulnerable" Syrian refugees has been welcomed by Save the Children, as it was "consistent with the UK Government's leadership".
Speaking from Jordan, Karl Schembri told Daybreak the UK had provided "generous humanitarian aid" to the millions of Syrian refugees who had fled to neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.
However, he warned the amount Britain would re-home was just "the tip of the iceberg", adding that it should take in thousands, not hundreds.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg last night confirmed that Britain will be accepting refugees from Syria and will now be working with the United nations to identify the "most vulnerable Syrian refugees".
Mr Clegg said: "This conflict is worsening by the day and that's why we need to do more.
"That's why I am pleased to announce that we will now be working with the United Nations to identify the most vulnerable Syrian refugees - particularly women, girls and children - and those who have been subject to sexual violence in this conflict, to provide them with refuge here in Britain."
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has said that the government's decision to offer refuge to some Syrian refugees showed that "compassion and common sense have won through".
The Labour politician said the coalition has "completely changed their position since seven days ago":
Latest ITV News reports
ITV News has heard the accounts of two Syrian families who could be among the vulnerable refugees admitted to Britain.