City rushes to aid Syrian refugees

A young refugee looks out of a bus window as she leaves Glasgow Airport. Picture: Hemedia
A young refugee looks out of a bus window as she leaves Glasgow Airport. Picture: Hemedia
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AROUND 50 refugees fleeing war-torn Syria have begun their new lives in the Capital – and among them were some of the most vulnerable families affected by the country’s escalating violence.

A charter flight carrying 100 people arrived in Glasgow yesterday, with around half due to be settled across Edinburgh.

Alex Lunn, SNP councillor for Craigentinny and Duddingston, who sits on the communities and neighbourhoods committee, revealed the council had been “inundated” with offers of help from Edinburgh citizens vying to welcome the refugees.

“That has made me extremely proud to see the level of support there has been for the refugees to be homed here,” Mr Lunn said.

Big-hearted residents have offered to donate clothing, food and even to tutor youngsters, while others pledged to give up spare rooms.

The city has agreed to welcome around 100 Syrian 
refugees, with 50 more due to arrive in the New Year.

It is understood that the refugees will be spread across the city and live in private housing.

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Europe and International Development, described their arrival as a “proud day for Scotland”, adding: “I would like to extend the warmest of welcomes on behalf of the people of Scotland to the Syrian refugees, and wish them all the best as they are supported to start their new lives here.

“These people have fled terror and tyranny and are some of the most vulnerable among those affected by conflict in Syria.”

The city is closely involved with the UK government’s relocation scheme, intended to help some of Syria’s neediest people, including survivors of torture and violence, women and children at risk, and those in need of medical care.

The council will be using its private sector leasing scheme to accommodate refugees while school and GP placements have also been identified.

An informed source confirmed activities and events would be held in the “near future” to help the refugees settle into their communities.

Council leader Andrew Burns said: “Naturally, we’re keen to provide support and assistance to those in need of our help. The people coming to Edinburgh have been on a long, difficult journey.

“Working with our partners in health, police and in the third sector, we look forward to helping them settle in Edinburgh.

“Our city has long been a multicultural capital and we will continue to welcome people from all over the world to live, work and raise families here.

“There’s been a huge response from local communities offering help, which is very heartwarming, but we need to ensure we can channel this support to make the best use of it.”