Council pledges to help refugees

Conservative MP's Members of project Maja visit the Syrian refugee camp Nizip Container camp just outside Gaziantep, Turkey, Friday, 10th January 2014. Picture by Andrew Parsons / i-Images

Conservative MP's Members of project Maja visit the Syrian refugee camp Nizip Container camp just outside Gaziantep, Turkey, Friday, 10th January 2014. Picture by Andrew Parsons / i-Images

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Aberdeenshire Council is committed to easing the plight of refugees seeking protection from persecution, its chief executive has said.

Although the authority has so far not been directly involved in supporting those caught up in the humanitarian crisis, it is sympathetic and has been working with national Government to see how it can assist.

Aberdeenshire Council Chief Executive Jim Savage

Aberdeenshire Council Chief Executive Jim Savage

It was recently represented at the UK Government’s Refugee Summit by Cosla, the unbrella body for all Scottish councils. Although a small number of Syrian refugees have already been resettled in Scotland, councils are in discussions with the Home Office about accepting more.

“Over the last week, we have received a great deal of interest from members of our communities asking us what support we are able to provide, and how they can support the wider humanitarian crisis,” said Aberdeenshire Council Chief Executive, Jim Savage.

“Officers from the council are speaking to colleagues in other agencies to consider a range of support including housing, education, and health. Our local response would involve working closely with our community planning partners, to ensure a co-ordinated response and provide all the necessary support for the refugees.

“The council Co-Leaders have indicated that the council is committed to playing its part in any government-led Syrian Resettlement Scheme.

“Scottish councils recognise the right of all people to seek protection from persecution and stand ready to play our part in alleviating this humanitarian crisis.

“We would urge any Aberdeenshire residents who wish to support the humanitarian crisis to do so through international charities like The British Red Cross which is experienced in international aid and crisis support.”

The scale of the crisis means local councils can only assist with the support of national governments at Holyrood and Westminster.

Until more information is available from the UK Government on the numbers of refugees to be admitted to the country and how they will be distributed, Aberdeenshire Council will continue to monitor the situation and assist in any way it can.