Scotland ‘leading led the way’ in resettling Syrian refugees

Keith Vaz MP
Keith Vaz MP

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs committee, has said that Scotland has “led the way” in the UK’s efforts to resettle refugees fleeing the war in Syria.

The Labour MP said that unlike “whole swathes” of the United Kingdom, local authorities like Glasgow and Edinburgh have been “able” and “willing” to do their fair share.

His comments followed the publication of a report that showed 38 per cent of Syrian refugees were resettled in Scotland.

The UK government has pledged to take in 20,000 refugees by 2020.

All but seven of Scotland’s 32 local authorities took in refugees under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme.

According to figures released in May, a total of 610 of the 1,622 refugees arriving in the UK between October 2015 and March 2016 were settled by Scottish councils.

The Scottish Government has said Scottish local authorities would provide homes for at least 2,000 Syrians.

Renfrewshire took the most refugees, resettling 68 people and came third in a list of councils across the UK. Argyll and Bute took in 58 people, while Edinburgh and Glasgow resettled 53 and 51 respectively.

Across the UK, Coventry took in 105 people, while Nottingham took 81 refugees.

At the time of the survey only East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, Highland, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, South Ayrshire and Western Isles councils had taken no refugees under the resettlement scheme.

However, since then eight people have been resettled in the Western Isles while South Ayrshire has taken in seven.

Mr Vaz told Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “The commitment made by David Cameron last year that Britain would take 20,000 refugees from Syria was extremely welcome, but that depends on local authorities being able to and being willing to take a very limited number of Syrian refugee families.

“In this respect, local authorities in Scotland like Glasgow and Edinburgh have led the way for the rest of the United Kingdom.

“They’ve taken their fair share, but there are whole swathes of the rest of the United Kingdom where no Syrian refugees have been resettled and that is a cause for worry because we’re never going to meet that target unless everyone takes their fair share.”

Green MSP for the West of Scotland, Ross Greer, wants other Scottish and UK councils to match the West of Scotland for its leading humanitarian role and for the Scottish Parliament to be able to have a say in future refugee schemes.

Greer said: “Renfrewshire, and the West of Scotland overall can be proud of its role in stepping up to help Syrian refugees, many of whom have travelled a long way to flee a desperate situation. However, there are many local authorities in Scotland and the UK who have accepted just a handful of people to resettle, with many having accepted none at all. That’s simply not good enough.

“That being said, the scheme in general, devised by the UK government, was never designed to see the UK take its fair share of refugees. Instead, we’re seen as the foot-draggers of Europe who’d rather sit back and watch other countries do the hard work. It really illustrates the need for the Scottish Parliament to have more powers to be able to assist in the time of international crises.”

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