More than 150 Syria conflict refugees resettled in Hartlepool
More than 150 refugees have been resettled in Hartlepool under schemes for those affected by the Syria conflict, figures reveal.
But with the UK's backlog of asylum applications climbing to nearly 50,000 cases, campaigners warn that many of those seeking sanctuary have been left to survive on a pittance while awaiting their fate.
In Hartlepool, 136 people have been resettled under the Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme (VPRS), Home Office statistics show.
Launched in 2014, the scheme grants humanitarian protection, like asylum or other forms of leave to remain, to those who fled the conflict.
Arrivals were granted refugee status from 2017.
A further 30 children found sanctuary under VPRS's sister scheme.
Since both schemes began, nearly 20,000 people – including 1,700 children – have been resettled across the UK under the plans.
Together, they account for nearly three-quarters of people resettled in the UK since 2010, the earliest year for which data is available.
The Refugee Council has urged the Government to tackle the backlog.
Andy Hewett, the non-profit organisation's head of advocacy, said: "We are very concerned at the time it is taking incredibly vulnerable people to be given news of their fate.
"Record numbers of people are having to wait for six months or more for even an initial decision on their asylum claim.
"This means thousands of people living in limbo, not being able to move on with their lives and living in desperate worry about what the future may hold."
In Hartlepool, 302 asylum seekers were receiving support for accommodation or basics like food, as of September 2019.