Council earmarks 40 homes for Syrian refugees

Refugees return to the shore at Turkey after bad weather conditions stopped them crossing to Greece. Picture: AFP
Refugees return to the shore at Turkey after bad weather conditions stopped them crossing to Greece. Picture: AFP
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HOMES will be provided in Midlothian for around 40 ­Syrian refugees over the next five years.

Councillors agreed the total after an investigation into how the authority could support those caught up in the humanitarian crisis.

All local authorities in Scotland have already agreed to work with the Scottish Government and the Home Office on the Syrian Vulnerable Person Scheme.

The move will see 20,000 refugees resettled in the UK from camps on the borders of Syria.

It is estimated around 2000 refugees will come to Scotland – Edinburgh has already agreed to take 100 over the next year.

The first refugees could arrive in Midlothian early next year, and councillors have called on the community to do what they can to welcome them.

Council leader Catherine Johnstone, said: “We’ve all seen the harrowing images of the conflict in Syria on television and social media.

“I’m sure everyone in Midlothian, therefore, shares our grave concerns about the plight of refugees trying to escape this horrendous war and persecution.

“We have a moral duty to help those in need who have lost their homes, their livelihoods, their communities and often their loved ones too.”

The council said the refugees would be housed in properties which are “reasonable condition” but not currently used.

It added the negotiations were ongoing with the Scottish Government regarding the scheme’s funding.

Cllr Johnstone accepted Midlothian was taking a relatively small number of refugees, but said she wanted new arrivals to feel part of the community.

She said: “The figure of approximately 40 based on what we should be expected to accept of the nationally agreed total figure. Over a five-year period, this really is not a large amount of people at all.

“However, while the number may be relatively small, we want to make sure these new arrivals, whenever they come in the next five years, are welcomed and feel part of the community.

“As a council, we are working with partner agencies to make sure this is the case. We’re relying on local people too to do their bit.

“Indeed in the coming weeks there may be volunteering opportunities or ways people can donate goods or other services to help refugees settle in locally. We will be sharing that information when we have it.”

Campaigners welcomed the Capital’s promise to take 100 refugees – but said Edinburgh should be doing more.

City bosses have insisted they are well placed to offer housing, education and health care without affecting services for existing residents.

In September, a city clergyman offered his home to refugees fleeing war-torn areas such as Syria. Roman Catholic Archbishop Leo Cushley made the offer when he gave his Thought for the Day on BBC Good Morning Scotland.