MPs call for action after Freedom from Torture raises concern for Syrian torture survivors in UK

The Public Accounts Committee has today published a report that casts doubt on whether survivors of torture are receiving the specialist help they need as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement programme and calls on the Government to undertake a full review of how Syrian torture survivors are being identified and supported in the UK.

In its report, the Committee, chaired by Meg Hillier MP, refers to the evidence provided by Freedom from Torture, which points out that, despite being the largest torture rehabilitation organisation in the country, very few people from the programme have so far been referred to us for help. It has previously been accepted that 55 per cent of those being resettled in the UK as part of this programme are survivors of torture or violence.

The Committee recognised our concerns around the specialist needs of torture survivors not being met, finding that it is ‘not yet clear whether survivors of torture or violence are getting the specialist help they need to be able to come to terms with their experiences’.

Meg Hillier MP, said:

“It is a stark fact that more than half of the refugees resettled under the programme by the end of June last year had suffered torture or violence and it is critical that such people receive specialist support. Our Committee has previously highlighted the shortcomings in access to mental health services and we call on the Government to ensure a plan is in place to properly support refugees in need of them."

Lucy Gregg, Senior Policy Advisor at Freedom from Torture, said:

“Despite being the only organisation dedicated to the treatment of torture survivors in the UK, we have been referred just a handful of Syrians from this programme and our offers to assist on a bigger scale have so far been overlooked by the Government.

We are therefore pleased that the Public Accounts Committee has taken on board our long-running concerns and we wholeheartedly support the committee’s call for the Home Office to undertake a full review of how torture survivors are being identified and supported in this scheme.

Early identification of torture survivors and the provision of specialist clinical services are absolutely vital in ensuring that those being resettled can integrate into their host communities and are crucial to the long term success of the programme.”