MANILA, Philippines — British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Thursday that his country was preparing to accept the most vulnerable Syrian refugees this year.
Hague told a news conference in the Philippine capital, Manila, that the details were still being worked out. He did not specify the number of the refugees but said that Britain would prioritize displaced Syrians who have been exposed to the horrors of the three-year-old conflict, including victims of sexual violence.
“We will take people into the United Kingdom in order to help them and give them some respite and some care after some of the things that they have been through,” Hague said in a news conference during a two-day visit to Manila.
Hague said the Syrian civil war was “the worst conflict so far … the biggest humanitarian disaster of the 21st century.”
“It is on Europe’s doorstep and provides, sadly, threats to the national security of Europe’s nations, including the United Kingdom,” he told a forum of Philippine business-people and British nationals later Thursday.
More than 130,000 people have died since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad began in March 2011, and millions of people have been uprooted from their homes.
At least 2.4 million people have fled Syria, most of them to neighboring countries.
Britain has been one of the biggest humanitarian aid contributors to the victims of the civil war, providing food for 300,000 people daily and drinking water to nearly a million others, according to Hague. He added that the British aid has amounted to about $900 million.
“We welcome the contribution of many other countries are making,” Hague said. “But this means that in accepting people into UK, the United Kingdom is playing its full part in trying to accommodate people when necessary.”
“We’re leading the world in making sure that we try to look after people in the vicinity of Syria itself,” he said.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.