Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday that Britain would welcome “thousands more” Syrian refugees, after an outpouring of emotion over the image of a Syrian toddler lying dead on a Turkish beach put him under pressure to act.
Cameron, who spent two days refusing to commit Britain to taking in more migrants in response to a surge in numbers reaching Europe, gave no precise figure.
A spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency told reporters in Geneva that Britain would offer 4,000 spaces for Syrian refugees.
Later in Madrid, Cameron said his government would spend another 100 million pounds ($152 million) on humanitarian aid, taking its total contribution to 1 billion pounds since 2012.
With Europe seemingly at a loss over how to cope with a huge increase in numbers of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa seeking safety or better lives, Cameron had previously said he did not think the answer was to take in more.
Many at home and abroad accused his government of being uncaring and inflexible, and several of his own Conservative legislators and the human rights chief of the Council of Europe urged Britain to welcome more refugees.
“Given the scale of the crisis and the suffering of people, today I can announce that we will do more in providing resettlement for thousands more Syrian refugees,” Cameron told reporters in Lisbon after meeting his Portuguese counterpart.
About 5,000 Syrians who made their own way to Britain since the start of the war in their country have been granted asylum, and another 216 were brought to Britain under a U.N.-backed relocation scheme.
“We will accept thousands more under these existing schemes and we keep them under review,” Cameron said, adding that the government would speak with humanitarian organisations and announce further details next week.