Author- Jenni Davidson
Scotland’s council leaders have pledged to ensure that Scotland continues to play its part in resettling refugees displaced from their homes because of war and persecution.
Earlier this month the home secretary, Sajid Javid, announced that the UK will continue to resettle refugees under a new global scheme once the current Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Scheme, Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme and gateway protection programme end next year.
The new scheme, which will consolidate all three previous programmes and broaden the geographical focus beyond the Middle East and North Africa, begins in 2020, with 5,000 of the world’s most vulnerable refugees to be rehomed in the first year.
In addition, under the new scheme community groups will be able to sponsor refugees to come to the UK over and above the UK Government’s commitment.
A new process for emergency resettlement will also be developed, allowing the UK to respond quickly to instances where lives are at risk.
The scheme will continue to be a partnership between UNHCR, the UK Government and local authorities across the UK.
All 32 Scottish local authorities participate in the current refugee resettlement schemes and have provided housing and other support to over 3,000 refugees since 2015.
Following a COSLA leaders’ meeting in Edinburgh on Friday, council leaders committed to building on the work they have done up to this point.
COSLA’s community wellbeing spokesperson, Councillor Kelly Parry, said: “Scottish local authorities are proud to have extended a warm welcome to refugees from Syria and the wider region over the last four years and are keen to continue our participation beyond the end of the current schemes in 2020.
“That is why we welcome the Home Secretary’s announcement regarding resettlement to the UK post 2020 and are particularly pleased that the UK Government has listened to our representations and will continue to support the role that we play with the appropriate level of resourcing.
“Council staff and communities across Scotland have worked tirelessly to ensure that the newly resettled families have the best possible start and welcome to Scotland by finding suitable homes, helping to settle children in to school and supporting adults to find employment.
“I am delighted that this vital work will be continuing in the years ahead and applaud council leaders for the decision taken today.”