Why are we taking in Syrian refugees?
The Civil War in Syria has resulted in one of the worst humanitarian crises of the 21st century.
The Prime Minister announced in September 2015 that the UK should resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the rest of the Parliament. These will be some of the most vulnerable people affected by the conflict in Syria.
Councils across the country have been asked by the Home Office to bid to take part in the scheme by agreeing to resettle a number of refugees in their area.
After much deliberation and listening to public opinion on both sides of the debate, council leaders in Worcestershire have agreed to bid to take part in the scheme and play our part in helping those who are most in need.
Given what’s happened in mainland Europe won’t taking in refugees be risky?
The UK, and therefore Worcestershire, will not be taking refugees from mainland Europe. The refugees involved in this particular resettlement scheme will be taken directly from refugee camps in the Syrian area.
Refugees are assessed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) under their vulnerability criteria and referred to the UK for resettlement. The criteria for selecting individuals under the Syrian Resettlement Programme are:
women and girls at risk
survivors of violence and/or torture
refugees with legal and/or physical protection needs
refugees with medical needs or disabilities
children and adolescents at risk
persons at risk due to their sexual orientation or gender identity
refugees with family links in resettlement countries.
Refugees are interviewed and security vetted before they leave the camp and then security vetted again on their arrival in Britain.
How many will be arriving here?
50 refugees were resettled in 2016/17.
In February 2018 Council leaders across Worcestershire agreed to relocate more Syrian refugees across the county and have committed to hosting up to 50 Syrian refugees. The aim is to resettle refugee families in different areas of the county.
This new commitment will bring the total number of refugees resettled under the Government's Syrian Resettlement Programme in Worcestershire up to 100.
Where and when will they be arriving?
Fourteen families were resettled in Redditch, Wyre Forest and Worcester between June 2016 and February 2017. The aim is to resettle further refugee families in different areas of the county. The first of the new arrivals are not expected to arrive until the autumn 2018.
How much is this going to cost the council taxpayer?
It is anticipated the scheme will cost nothing. The scheme runs for five years with funding coming directly to local authorities from the Foreign Aid budget. Further resources will be invested into the local NHS and Education by the Government. These additional resources will help to ensure that any impact on services for local residents will be minimised.
In addition there has already been a huge amount of support from voluntary and charitable organisations that are helping to support the Syrian families resettle into their new lives in Worcestershire.
How long will refugees be able to stay in Worcestershire/UK?
Syrian refugees are being granted five years humanitarian protection, under the government’s Syrian Resettlement Programme, after which time they can either return home if it’s safe to do so or apply to settle here under the usual Home Office rules.
Where are they going to live?
Refugee families have been housed in private sector rental properties within Worcestershire. We continue to appeal for private landlords to come forward and offer properties suitable for the housing of refugees. We are not asking residents to offer spare rooms in their homes to house refugees.
How will they adapt to living in Worcestershire?
Refugees are very keen to learn English and about English culture. The Government funding will pay for language and local culture classes. Local volunteers have befriended families to help them adapt quickly within their local community.
Shouldn’t the council be prioritising the homeless and people on the waiting list above refugees?
We will not be using social housing to resettle refugees so anyone on the housing waiting list or in priority need of housing will be unaffected by this decision and dealt with in the usual way.