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Another 60 Syrian refugees are to be given the chance to settle in North Ayrshire and start a new life in Scotland.
Following a report on the success of the Syrian refugee programme, which so far has assisted 19 Syrian families, 34 parents and 59 children, the NAC cabinet agreed on Tuesday to accommodate a further 60 refugees by 2021.
Reaffirming their commitment to those fleeing persecution and war the programme pledged to accommodate up to 100 refugees over a four-year period with the first refugees arriving in November 2015.
Having already accepted 93 people of a 100 person target in the first two years of a four year programme the proposal was submitted to extend the resettlement programme by a further 60.
Some of the families already in North Ayrshire live on Bute, but no decision has been made if any accommodation will be found for them on Arran this time round.
Cabinet members considered the scheme a success, particularly the way in which they describe local communities in North Ayrshire welcoming the Syrian families. Reporting that there have been numerous examples of local people offering practical and emotional support including food, clothing, electrical items and access to wi-fi so they can contact family members abroad. Also highlighted was a church which provided access to their facilities for religious purposes and joint community events to take place.
Cabinet member for Place, Jim Montgomerie said: ‘What we have witnessed in Syria is one of the biggest humanitarian crises for decades. War, violence and persecution has forced millions of people from their homes, leaving families with nowhere to turn to.
‘We have made it clear that humanitarian protection is a key principle for North Ayrshire Council and it is only right that we play a role in helping these people start a new life.
‘It has been really heartening that the community of North Ayrshire has been so supportive of our efforts, with countless numbers of people rallying round to help Syrian families settle into their new life.
‘We are pleased that our Syrian Resettlement Programme has been successful so far and will now look forward to helping more families build a new life for themselves.’
Dealing with the resettlement and integration of the refugees, the council set up the Syrian Refugee Task Force who ensure that children of school age are engaged in education and adults receive language tuition. Another key focus is to enhance personal social development, aid refugee integration and improve employment prospects of those of working age.