Edinburgh ready to welcome child refugees from Calais ‘jungle’

Edinburgh will be welcoming migrant children. Picture: GETTY
Edinburgh will be welcoming migrant children. Picture: GETTY

EDINBURGH is set to welcome a group of refugee children displaced from the Calais 
“jungle”.

The city council said it could not confirm the numbers involved at this stage.

Andrew Burns. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Andrew Burns. Picture: Ian Georgeson

But it has costed how the Capital could resettle 24 youngsters over a year and under a formula proposed by the Home Office, Edinburgh would receive up to 56 unaccompanied refugee children.

Glasgow has already announced it will welcome 35 children from the Calais camp who have been identified as needing immediate help.

Around 300 unaccompanied youngsters from the Calais have already arrived in the UK after French authorities moved in and demolished the camp.

Edinburgh council leader Andrew Burns said: “We will be taking our fair share of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, absolutely definitely.”

A protocol on the children coming to Scotland has not yet been agreed by the umbrella body, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) but that is expected to happen at its next meeting on November 25.

And Councillor Burns said Edinburgh would be welcoming youngsters here before the protocol was finalised.

Meanwhile council officials have highlighted a gap in funding from the Home Office for councils accepting the refugee children.

An internal briefing document says children will first need to be assessed, with those under 16 expected to go onto foster care and over-16s to supported accommodation.

It goes on to say that if the council agreed to resettle 24 unaccompanied children at a rate of six per quarter, two-thirds of them over 16, potential costs would be £900,000 for assessments, £213,000 for foster placements plus support and £360,000 for group housing plus support, giving a total cost of £1,473,000. But Home Office funding would only be £540,200, leaving the council a bill for £932,800.

Edinburgh has already taken in around 100 refugees from camps in Syria and neighbouring countries under a UK government scheme.

A council spokeswoman said discussions about accepting refugee children from Calais were in their “final stages”.

But she added: “We can’t confirm numbers at this stage.”

It is not clear how soon the youngsters would arrive in the Capital. Up to 10,000 people were living in the makeshift homes and shelters known as “the jungle” which sprang up on the edge of Calais and served as a staging post for migrants many of whom wanted to come to the UK.

Around 1500 children who were still at the camp were yesterday being bussed to other parts of France after the final shelters were taken 
down.

About 60 Home Office officials are working in France until the applications of all minors hoping to come to the UK are processed.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com