Britain will take “thousands more” refugees from camps on the borders of war-torn Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced.
Speaking during a visit to Portugal, Mr Cameron said he would set out details of the plans next week.
The PM said that Britain was already “providing sanctuary” to around 5,000 refugees from the camps, and had provided around £900 million in aid - more than any other European country.
He said Britain had a “moral responsibility” to help refugees.
But he gave no indication that the UK would be willing to resettle any of the hundreds of thousands of desperate people who have made perilous Mediterranean crossings by boat to reach Europe over the past few months.
Mr Cameron said: “We have already accepted around 5,000 Syrians, and we’ve introduced a specific resettlement scheme alongside those we already have to help those Syrian refugees particularly at risk.
“As I said earlier this week, we will accept thousands more under these existing schemes, and we keep them under review. Given the scale of the crisis and the suffering of people, today I can announce that we will do more, providing resettlement for thousands more Syrian refugees.
“We will continue with our approach of taking them from the refugee camps. This provides them with a more direct and safe route to the United Kingdom, rather than risking the hazardous journey which has tragically cost so many their lives.”
Mr Cameron said details of the scheme would be announced next week, after discussions with NGOs and other partners, and Britain would act with “our head and our heart”.
The dean of York Minster was among those to offer a home to a refugee family.
The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull said Britain “is not providing an adequate solution” to the current situation and said the cathedral is offering one of its vacant properties to a family.
It is understood the Minster owns a small number of residential properties in the city.
Dean Faull said: “Having seen the terrible suffering being experienced over recent weeks I urge the Government to change its stance and commit to welcoming more asylum seekers.”
Mr Cameron said the migration crisis was “the biggest challenge facing countries across Europe today”. Among more than 220,000 people detected crossing the Mediterranean were individuals “from different countries under different circumstances”, including many Syrians fleeing the conflict in that country.
The PM said: “Britain has a moral responsibility to help refugees, as we have done throughout our history. We are already providing sanctuary and will continue to do so.
“As the second-largest bilateral donor to the crisis, we have provided over £900 million in aid to help those affected in Syria and the region. We have funded shelter, food, water, vital medical supplies for millions of desperate refugees fleeing the conflict and helping them survive in the countries around Syria, like Jordan and Lebanon.
“No European country has done more than Britain in this regard. Were it not for that massive aid, the numbers making the perilous journey to Europe today would be even higher.”
He added: “Britain will continue to work with partners to tackle the conflict in Syria, to provide support to the region, to go after the smuggling gangs exploiting these people and we will continue to save lives at sea,” he said.
“HMS Enterprise remains in the Mediterranean alongside the border force cutters, and together with HMS Bulwark they have now rescued more than 6,700 people.
“Britain will act with our head and our heart, providing refuge to those in need while working on long term-solutions to this crisis.
“As I said earlier in the week, this means bringing to an end the conflicts that are driving so many to flee - including the bloodbath that has engulfed Syria.”
Yesterday the Bishop of Leeds challenged Britain to accept more refugees as Europe’s migrants crisis deepens - saying it would be “inhumane” not to do so.
Writing on his blog, the Right Reverend Nick Baines urged David Cameron’s government to act in the name of humanity.
“Actually, the crisis is not in Europe, but in the appallingly destructive states from which millions of people are fleeing,” he wrote.