Monday, 13 February 2017

Refugee/asylum seeker update

I am often asked about progress in Edinburgh of the programme to receive asylum seekers and refugees, particularly in relation to the Syrian war.  In fact there are several programmes.  The first is the Syrian Resettlement programme which I will give up to date details of in this post.  Then there is the programme for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children which arose out of the circumstances of the Calais refugee camp. Then there are other proposals/programmes in relation to Refugees/Asylum Seekers and I will deal with these last two in future posts.

Syrian Resettlement Programme
  1. Scotland has resettled more than 1,300 Syrian refugees since November 2015.  This represents over a quarter of the 4,400 refugees settled in the UK under the Syrian Resettlement Programme (SRP) so far.
  2. The SRP was set up in September 2015 to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees over the life of this Parliament.  It is a partnership between the Home Office, the UNHCR and local authorities and is focused on refugee camps in countries around Syria (not refugees in Syria or in Europe).  The UNCR identifies refugees potentially eligible for resettlement and the Home Office makes the final decision regarding identities and numbers.
  3. Edinburgh has committed to resettling one hundred refugees for each of the five years of the programme.  To date the Council has resettled one hundred and thirty refugees (twenty-six households) with a further arrival scheduled for early spring.  The city is on track to realise the overall commitment.
  4. Refugees resettled under this scheme arrive with Humanitarian Protection Status conferring on them leave to remain in the UK for five years and the entitlement to work or apply for benefits from the point of arrival.  They also arrive with a package of funding from the UK Government which extends, on a tapering basis over the five year period.
  5. Homes for refugees - who mostly arrive in family groups - have been provided thus far through the Council's Private Sector Leasing Scheme (PSL).  Whilst PSL is technically a temporary housing solution, commitment has been sought from landlords that leases will be given for at least three years. 
  6. English language and cultural integration support is delivered through a partnership of Council and third sector organisations and Edinburgh College facilities.
  7. There is still a need for partnership to welcome refugees in this programme.  Two of the groups providing support are Edinburgh City of Sanctuary and Edinburgh Churches for Sanctuary.
Earlier post from me on this subject can be found here and here.  I see an interesting post here giving another perspective of the overall situation in the light of public discussion in the last week.

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