DUNCAN BARKES: I am proud Britain is giving hope to refugees

Some people have absolutely no compassion. However, look for ignorance and hate, especially when discussing the news that Britain will finally

offer sanctuary to some vulnerable Syrian refugees and you won’t have to look very far.

The British government has taken its time over this. Sending millions of pounds in aid to those suffering in Syria because of the civil war was initially a step in the right direction, but to drag our heels over offering a safe haven is embarrassing to a great nation such as ours.

It took the combined pressure of Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the leader of UKIP to make David Cameron U-turn on this. It has now been confirmed that Britain will take a few hundred vulnerable refugees.

Given the outraged response, you would think the prime minister had suggested we offer sanctuary to Assad and his entire regime.

From radio phone-ins to letters in various newspapers, there is clearly a feeling that Britain should not be doing this because it is ‘not our problem’.

I have heard people say that Britain is ‘full up’ and that those fleeing Syria will simply come here to fleece the benefits system and take British jobs. Some have suggested Britain should not do anything at all, as other countries are not doing enough.

Such ignorance is as dangerous as it is appalling. Neighbouring countries to Syria such as Turkey and Jordan have taken hundreds of thousands of refugees, Germany has committed to taking 10,000; France several hundred. Most countries are doing their bit and rightly so, but it seems critics cannot distinguish between refugees and the hysteria surrounding immigration.

The immigration debate in this country is at an all-time high and it will be a key campaigning issue as part of next year’s general election. But given the frenzied rhetoric promoted by some, it is now obstructing basic humanity and compassion for our fellow man.

I would like tighter controls on immigration, but I have no issue whatsoever with giving sanctuary to vulnerable refugees fleeing Syria.

The key word here is ‘vulnerable’ – the definition of which is women and children who have been tortured and raped, or who are at risk of sexual assault. These are not immigrants wanting to come to Britain for an ‘easy life’ or to get a better job. These people are fleeing some of the worst atrocities imaginable.

I am proud that Britain is giving these refugees hope. And if you still struggle with our nation extending compassion to these desperate souls, perhaps you should be thankful you have never had to endure such a living nightmare yourself.