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Media Centre

About FPH

The UK Faculty of Public Health (FPH) is committed to improving and protecting people’s mental and physical health and wellbeing. Our vision is for better health for all, where people are able to achieve their fullest potential for a healthy, fulfilling life through a fair and equitable society. We work to promote understanding of public health issues and to drive improvements in public health policy and practice.

As the leading professional body for public health specialists in the UK, our members are trained to the highest possible standards of public health competence and practice, as set by FPH. With 3,300 members, in the UK and internationally, we work to develop knowledge and understanding, and to promote excellence in the field of public health. For more than 40 years, we have been at the forefront of developing and expanding the public health workforce and profession.

Contact the press office:
Tel: 020 3696 1478
Out of office enquiries: 07703 715106

Latest press release:

(16 September 2015)

Joint ADPH and FPH press release: UK needs urgent, co-ordinated public health action on Syrian refugee crisis

The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) and the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) are today (16 September) calling for the urgent coordinated action of local government, public health agencies, NHS and the voluntary sector in response to the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

We welcome the Home Secretary's call today for agencies to work together to support refugees arriving in the UK. Our organisations will do all we can to help, and we will draw on our previous experience of such work to help ensure that refugees are appropriately supported and welcomed to the UK.

If the UK is to respond effectively to the immediate needs of vulnerable people traumatised by the on-going conflict in Syria, ADPH and FPH believe the government needs to accelerate the implementation of the UK Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme within the next 12-18 months. This scheme offers the most vulnerable refugees fleeing the Syrian crisis protection in the UK.

Dr Andrew Furber, President of ADPH and Director of Public Health for Wakefield, said: "Previous experience tells us the health and wellbeing needs of refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the UK can be complex. It is important that local authorities are adequately supported to provide the necessary response. Directors of public health are well placed and ready to support the management of such an exercise."

Professor John Ashton, President of FPH, said: "The UK has a proud and strong tradition of providing humanitarian support both through its overseas development aid and through compassionate and humanitarian provision of support to refugees arriving in the UK. We must learn from our previous experience and extend that same compassion in public health now. Today the focus is Syria. Tomorrow we must think about the equally compelling needs of the men, women and children displaced from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere."

Lessons learned from the Kosovo response should inform a more rapid gearing up of refugee reception in the UK, so that the current UK target of receiving 20,000 refugees from the countries bordering Syria can be realised rapidly to meet urgent humanitarian needs.

In terms of urgent next steps it is recommended that:

  • Based on previous experience and our understanding of the current situation, implementation of the UK Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme be accelerated to within a timeframe of 12-18 months rather than five years to ease integration and transition of refugees into the UK.
  • Lessons should be learnt from the Kosovan refugee crisis on the phases of the response and managing effective arrangements.
  • The required service response for vulnerable children and orphans needs to be scoped urgently and its implications for local government and health services, such as fostering and family support and protection and children’s mental and emotional wellbeing services including complex needs such as conflict-related sexual abuse, torture and trauma.
  • Financial support should be available to allow local authorities who are willing and able to accept refugees to do so quickly and without a major impact on routine services.  
  • A dedicated resource should be created to manage and coordinate the crisis response, drawing together expertise from all four nations, working with the UK and devolved governments and UNHCR to deliver services for the reception and care of refugees, including unaccompanied children.
  • The important contribution that directors of public health could make to support the arrival of Syrian refugees within their local area is fully exploited.


For further information please contact:

  • Rasal Sesay ADPH Policy Administrator on 020 7832 6945 or 
  • For all FPH media enquiries, please contact Liz Skinner, Senior Media and PR Officer, email , tel 020 3696 2478 or for out-of-hours media enquiries, please call 07703 715106.
  • For ADPH interview requests please contact Enquiries at .

Notes to editors
A briefing on the Syrian refugee crisis and UK refugee plan follows below.
1.    The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) is the representative body for directors of public health (DsPH) in the UK. It seeks to improve and protect the health of the population through DPH development, sharing good practice, and policy and advocacy programmes.
2.    ADPH has a strong track record of collaboration with other stakeholders in public health, including those working within the NHS, local authorities and other sectors.
3.    The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) is the leading professional body for over 3,300 public health specialists in the UK. It works to improve people’s health and wellbeing through its core aims of setting the standards for and quality assuring the specialist public health workforce and advocating for action on public health issues.
4.    As members of the leading professional body for public health specialists in the UK, FPH members are trained to the highest possible standards of public health competence and practice, as set by FPH. With 3,300 members, in the UK and internationally, FPH works to develop knowledge and understanding and to promote excellence in the field of public health. For more than 40 years, FPH has been at the forefront of developing and expanding the public health workforce and profession.
5.    The Local Government Authority has produced a one-stop resource to answer any questions regarding the resettlement of Syrian refugees:

Media briefing: ADPH and FPH Joint Statement – Syrian Refugee Crisis and UK Refugee Plan

On 7 September 2015, the Prime Minister announced a significant extension of the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme for Syrian refugees. The Government intends to resettle up to 20,000 refugees from Syria's neighbouring countries over the next five years. However, it does not intend to offer resettlement to Syrian refugees already in Europe, or to participate in the EU's proposed refugee resettlement and relocation schemes.

Refugee Crisis - Migration Pressures across Europe
The crisis over deaths in of migrants in the Mediterranean has brought calls for decisive action from the EU. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is warning that the world is in the midst of a forced migration crisis, and it expects the situation to get worse still. European leaders are struggling to agree on how to respond to the challenges posed by large movements of irregular migrants across their borders.

Huge numbers of people are dying trying to cross the Mediterranean to southern Europe from Libya. Lawlessness in Libya means that there is little authority to control the flow; some of the militias controlling the country are profiting from the trade. The recipient countries in the EU are struggling to deal with the large numbers reaching their destination, and securing agreement within the EU on a coordinated response to the challenges posed by the migration flows is proving difficult.

The EU has strengthened its search-and-rescue operations, Triton and Poseidon, and is giving some practical and financial support to the most affected member states, particularly Italy and Greece. It has proposed an emergency scheme to relocate 40,000 migrants from Italy and Greece to other member states over the next two years.

The UK Government is not participating in the relocation scheme. It has offered some practical assistance to its EU partners, including some support for the search-and-rescue missions in the Mediterranean.

UK response to the Syria Crisis
As the Syrian crisis gets ever deeper and worries grow about the many Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, there is pressure for the UK to accept more Syrian refugees. Over 12 million Syrians need help in the country, of whom 7.6 million are internally displaced. Four million Syrians have fled abroad, mostly to neighbouring countries in the region.

UNHCR is calling on the international community to provide places for 130,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. Just over 100,000 places have been offered so far.

Up until 29 January 2014, the Government's policy was to be generous with humanitarian aid to Syria's neighbours rather than to accept recognised Syrian refugees for resettlement in the UK. However, the Government then established a "vulnerable persons relocation scheme", in order to provide a route for selected Syrian refugees to come to the UK.

The scheme prioritises victims of sexual violence and torture, and the elderly and disabled. The Government initially expected that several hundred refugees would arrive in the UK through the scheme over three years, although there was no fixed quota. The resettled refugees are given five years’ Humanitarian Protection status, with permission to work and access public funds.

A total of 216 people have been resettled in the UK under the scheme (as at the end of June 2015).

It is also possible for Syrians to claim asylum upon arrival or after entry to the UK. Almost 5,000 Syrians have been granted asylum in the UK since the start of the humanitarian crisis (as at June 2015).

Aid agencies had been urging the UK Government to do more for some time, but its policy had been to concentrate aid on refugees in the region itself. The UK is the second largest bilateral donor to the Syrian refugee crisis. A further increase in funding, announced on 4 September 2015, takes the UK’s contribution to over £1 billion.

September 2015 – Extension of the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme
On 7 September 2015, the Prime Minister announced a significant extension of the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme for Syrian nationals, in recognition of the worsening crisis:

  • Up to 20,000 Syrian refugees will be resettled in the UK over the course of this Parliament.
  • Resettlement will be offered to Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, rather than to those who have already travelled to Europe.
  • The criteria for resettlement under the scheme will be significantly expanded, including to give particular recognition to the needs of children (including orphaned children).
  • To ease the pressure on local authorities, the full costs of resettlement for the first year will be met from the international aid budget.

The Home Secretary is expected to provide a further update to the House of Commons next week, following discussions with local authorities and the devolved administrations about the practical implementation details.
Regular updates on the UK’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis are being posted on the GOV.UK website.
A separate library briefing, Migration pressures in Europe, discusses the EU’s general response to current migration flows to Europe from Syria and elsewhere.



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