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North Lanarkshire council chiefs have told how their experience with Congolese refugees could play a part in the current international crisis. Around 80 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo settled in Motherwell back in 2007.
North Lanarkshire Council helped bring them over as part of the UK Government’s Gateway Protection Programme. Now councillors are set to meet today Thursday 24th to discuss a paper put together by officials regarding the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme.
The council document states: “Following consultation with the council leadership, the council has confirmed its support for the resettlement programme as far as possible and this has been confirmed to COSLA.
“Scottish Government has made a commitment to support 2000 refugees which would equate to up 120 individuals being resettled in North Lanarkshire. The final figure will depend on factors such as family composition and phasing of the programme.
“The executive director of Housing and Social Work has been designated to lead the council response along with all partners and our communities. This will encompass any role the council will play in supporting communities and the voluntary sector in the co−ordination of material aid and donations.”
The paper goes into detail about the council’s experiences with the African refugees almost a decade ago. It says: “It was decided that the refugees would be housed in Motherwell, as the town with the council headquarters and the focus for most of the services which the refugees would use, including health, employment and with good transport links. In addition, the town has a high proportion of social rented housing and the council took the decision that refugees would be provided with tenancies in the social rented sector; no private rented accommodation was used.”
The paper goes on: “There were several areas of the programme that were seen as particularly successful aside from the huge humanitarian value. Some of these included the strength of the partnership approach.”
Regarding weaknesses of the previous programme, the paper said: “The funding from the Home Office was for one year which meant that mainstream services were to pick up after that period and it was clear that some specialist support needs for some of the group would extend well beyond that period.”
North Lanarkshire Council Leader, Councillor Jim McCabe said : “We are fully supportive of all the efforts to help refugees who find themselves in such appalling circumstances.
“We will participate fully in the UK government scheme and are awaiting details.”