The County You Live, Work And Play
Syrian Refugees Will Be Vetted
Syrian refugees coming to South Lanarkshire will have been thoroughly vetted before arriving in the region. That was the message from council officers as they prepare to welcome two families from refugee camps in the Middle East.
Plans are now well in place for the arrival of the displaced persons this month.
Although the council is not yet in a position to confirm where in the region the first arrivals will be housed, it is understood each area will play a part at some point.
Ann Gee, the council’s head of housing, tried to allay fears that may have been heightened after the Paris terrorist attacks.
She said: “The Syrian refugee crisis and terrorist outrages such as the awful events witnessed in Paris are separate issues.
“What happened in Paris is not applicable to the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Scheme process.
“All refugees arriving in the UK have been through robust and thorough screening measures before they are selected to resettle.”
The council is committed to taking 60 refugees over the next year, including two families before Christmas. All refugees will be funded from the UK Overseas Aid budget for the first year. Officers have prepared a welcome pack to help them settle and other steps will be taken to help them, including English lessons. Schools will also be asked to play their part, with many of the families likely to have young children.
Some of them could have been in refugee camps in countries neighbouring Syria for up to four years. Many will have witnessed and experienced unimaginable horrors during the conflict.
Ms Gee added: “Imagine being forced from your home to flee across the border, to exist in a camp before flying thousands of miles to a strange country, leaving family, friends and your whole life behind to start a new life for you and your family.
“That’s the reality for the two families we will be welcoming here in South Lanarkshire before Christmas. It is likely they have witnessed many horrors, experienced dreadful hardships and may have lost loved ones.
“What we do know is that refugees coming to the UK include survivors of persecution, violence and torture, women and children who are at risk and people who need medical care.
“Those coming to the UK are amongst the most vulnerable people in the conflict.”
Council leader Eddie McAvoy said he had received “reassurances around the safeguards that are in place to ensure people are genuine refugees”.
He added: “I call on everyone to give our first two families a warm welcome when they arrive before Christmas and that the same welcome is extended to the 60 or so people who will come to South Lanarkshire in total.
“These people need our help and we are in a fortunate position to be able to extend a hand of friendship to them.”