All Scottish councils pledge to welcome refugees from Syria

COSLAScotland’s 32 local authorities have agreed to welcome refugees as part of the nation’s efforts to tackle to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Representatives from the vast majority of the councils attended a summit held by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) in Edinburgh yesterday to consider how the collective local government response to the crisis is best handled.

Council leaders, chief executives and frontline workers were joined by representatives of the UK government, Scottish Government and the Scottish Refugee Council to discuss how Syrian refugees will be resettled in Scotland’s communities and to hear about good practice from councils that have already taken part in humanitarian protection schemes.

A COSLA spokesman said: “Scotland is a caring and compassionate country and the clear message that came through today was that Scotland’s councils stand ready to help in any way they can. This is first and foremost a humanitarian crisis and it requires a collective humanitarian response.

“Councils have an excellent track record in supporting the most vulnerable in society and already have effective systems in place which make us well placed to host Syrian refugees in our communities.

“Today’s summit heard that the urgent focus for Scottish councils will be now be on finding the best means of managing the arrival of refugees so that they can be found somewhere suitable to live, and can also have access to key services that will allow them to integrate into Scotland’s communities.

“COSLA will continue to work closely with the UK and Scottish Government to discuss the support that they can provide to councils and to co-ordinate our efforts in order that refugees enjoy as smooth a transition to life in the UK as they possibly can.

“However we fully recognise that this is not simply about matching people to houses, it is much more complex than that, it is about ensuring that they are able to integrate peacefully and fully into Scottish life.”

Although not part of COSLA, Aberdeen City Council also attended the meeting and agreed to the proposals.

Leader Jenny Laing said: “I was pleased to attend today’s summit in Edinburgh with the Scottish Government.

“This is a humanitarian crisis that requires an international and national response and we stand ready to play our part.

“We now have a clearer understanding of what the Scottish Government is looking for and we will be working with our officials to report back to the government in due course.”

The Scottish Government has said the country would welcome 1000 from Syria as an immediate priority.

A website called Scotland Welcomes Refugees was set up to provide a focal point for anyone wanting to donate time, accommodation or other practical help to refugees arriving in Scotland.

The website was viewed 10,000 times in the first 48 hours.

Seven hundred people from across Scotland - Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, North Berwick, Kilmarnock, Falkirk, Dundee, Troon, Campbeltown, Isle of Mull – have signed up to help, offering accommodation, befriending services and English language skills.

Minister for Europe and international development, Humza Yousaf, said: “People across Scotland have been moved by the harrowing images beamed through our television and shared on social media.

“We continue to see generations of families on the move in search of somewhere safe and desperately looking for somewhere they are welcome and accepted.

“Scotland will welcome them. The hundreds of people that have offered assistance within 48 hours through the new website illustrates our nation’s compassion, its humanity, our willingness to help those less fortunate.

“The UK has a moral obligation to help some of the most vulnerable people that are coming to Europe seeking protection. We cannot turn our back on innocent men, women and children in their moment of need.

“We are again urging the UK government to opt in to the EU relocation scheme and help our neighbours and European partners cope with this humanitarian crisis.”


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