Syrian refugee children to be welcomed to Edinburgh

THE Capital is set to begin discussions about accepting a 'fair share' of unaccompanied Syrian refugee children after a government U-turn.

Friday, 6th May 2016, 5:37 am
Updated Friday, 6th May 2016, 6:42 am
A boy at a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees. Picture: Getty

City leader Andrew Burns said the council was ready and willing to “play its part” in helping address the crisis and its impact on young people.

His comment came after Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK would take in lone youngsters, with the exact number depending on talks with local authorities.

Foster care leaders have welcomed the council’s stance and called on others to “follow its example”.

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The UK currently receives children from refugee camps in Syria and its neighbours, but there has been pressure to take some already in the EU.

Councillor Burns said: “We have already taken 100 people into Edinburgh and, for the families who have arrived, I am delighted to say that things are continuing to run smoothly.

“There has been a huge response from local communities and members of the public wanting to offer help, which has been extremely heart-warming.”

Cllr Burns said it was vital to ensure the necessary ­arrangements were put in place for refugee children.

He said: “The people ­coming to Edinburgh have been on a long and difficult journey. We welcome this further announcement [from David Cameron] and we will continue to work with our partners in health and the ­police, and with the Scottish and UK governments, to ensure that we take our share of these children and offer them the best outcomes possible.”

The government agreed in January to take some unaccompanied child refugees directly from north Africa and Middle East.

However, ministers rejected calls to accept 3000 youngsters who had made it to Europe because it did not want to encourage others to make the “lethal” journey. Now, in a change of heart, those registered in Greece, Italy or France before March 20 – when the EU struck its refugee deal with Turkey – will be eligible for UK resettlement.

Sara Lurie, director of The Fostering Network in Scotland, said: “Foster carers will provide homes and families for many of the children who are brought over to UK alone and without any ­family.

“They are best placed to do so as foster carers are hugely experienced in dealing with children with a huge range of needs, who could arrive at their front door at any time of day or night.

“We hope that all local authorities throughout Scotland, and the rest of the UK, will follow Edinburgh’s example and step forward to do their duty to meet the needs of the children who may be brought over.”