Syrian refugees welcome, say Scottish council leaders

scottish council
Image: Eoghan Rice

Scottish council leaders have confirmed 2,000 Syrian refugees will be offered shelter, with some arriving before Christmas.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has confirmed a coordinated effort between the 32 councils in Scotland to offer shelter to at least 2,000 Syrian refugees. Many thousands more have made the perilous journey to escape the civil war that has engulfed Syria since 2011.

Across Europe, communities and governments have been struggling to cope with the huge numbers of people who have had to flee their own homes. Despite calls from some quarters to halt the flow of foreign nationals into the UK and other European countries, there has also been an outpouring of concern from the public here and elsewhere in the EU. Local authorities in Scotland are now offering their support to rehome some Syrian refugees.

“A number of councils had already been in discussions with the Home Office about their involvement in the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme,” said COSLA president David O’Neill. “The last three weeks has seen all Scotland’s councils willing to support a coordinated response to what can only be described as a humanitarian crisis. For many councils, that has seen them committing to taking refugees immediately.”

According to O’Neill, the urgency of the situation needs to be balanced with appropriate planning for the reception and integration of vulnerable refugees into Scottish communities. COSLA has vowed to support each authority in their efforts, and to negotiate with the Home Office and Scottish Government on their behalf as regards the shape and implementation of the resettlement programme.

“We call upon both the Home Office and the Scottish Government to ensure that the programme is fully resourced so that local authorities and partners in the likes of health, the police and the voluntary sector can put appropriate services in place to meet the needs of these very vulnerable people.”

As many as 18 local councils may welcome refugees before Christmas, and although all 32 authorities are playing a part, refugees may not be housed in every area.

“Scotland’s local authorities have an excellent track record in supporting the most vulnerable in society and already have effective systems and partnerships in place which makes them well placed to host Syrian refugees in their communities,” added COSLA community wellbeing spokesman Harry McGuigan.


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