City offering sanctuary to refugees from Syria

REFUGEES from war- ravaged Syria are to be given new lives in Glasgow.

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A man walks by damage and debris in Ain Tarma in Syria
A man walks by damage and debris in Ain Tarma in Syria

The city will become the first in Scotland to accept people who have been forced to flee their homeland because of the violence.

It has been revealed 50 of the most vulnerable refugees from the troubled Middle East country will be given new homes in the city.

They will include survivors of torture and violence as well as women and children at risk and those in need of medical care.

It is understood the first group will arrive around the end of October.

The city council has been in discussions with Glasgow Housing Association and plans to talk to other registered social landlords about available accommodation.

Bringing the refugees to Glasgow is being co-ordinated by the Home Office. They will also fund the cost of looking after, accommodating and caring for the city's new residents.

City Council leader Gordon Matheson said: "We are the first Scottish council to accept Syrian refugees.

"Glasgow is recognised as having particular expertise in this area and in 2000 we operated the first asylum dispersal programme.

"We are recognised across the UK for handling these very sensitive situations well.

"The asylum seekers who come to Glasgow will be those who have been identified as among the most vulnerable of the 2.5million Syrians who have fled the country in fear of their lives and are in refugee camps in surrounding countries.

"The UK government will pay the costs that are incurred in terms of health, education as well as the other services that will be needed to look after these people including the cost of staffing to cover the administration of the scheme."

Mr Matheson added: "This is the right thing to do. Circumstances in Syria are heartbreaking and really quite terrible.

"I am confident the people of Glasgow will agree this is the right thing to do.

"It is a situation we can effectively manage and we will be able to offer the support the people will need."

Only 24 refugees from Syria had been allowed to enter Britain, almost six months after the Government promised several hundred would be given sanctuary.

Refugee groups accused the Home Office of dragging its feet despite a growing humanitarian crisis in countries bordering Syria.

The Government has said it intends to admit 500 refugees over a three-year period.

The ongoing conflict in the country has been described as the biggest postwar humanitarian crisis the world has seen.

In the 10 years to March 2010, around 22,000 asylum seekers came to Glasgow as a result of the Home Office dispersal contract.

In 2007, around 1000 asylum seekers were granted refugee status as they had spent too long in the asylum process and in that time had effectively settled in the city.

Up to 75 nationalities have come to Glasgow through the asylum seeker programme, although it is understood only 55 to 60 different nationalities would be in the city at any one time.

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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