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Refugees settling in East Ayrshire

What are refugees?

Refugees are people who are fleeing war, persecution and torture. The majority of the world's refugees are unable to travel far beyond the borders of their home country. They often live in refugee camps for years; many children have lived their entire lives in such camps. 

One of the ways in which the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) seeks to assist these refugees is to offer resettlement to another country. Resettlement gives refugees the opportunity to rebuild their lives in safety and security.  Under the terms of international law people are entitled to seek sanctuary from persecution. 

Is this a global problem?

The UK has less than 1% of the world’s refugees. The vast majority of refugees stay in their region of displacement so that means 86% of the world’s refugees are accommodated in their local regions.  Turkey hosts the highest number of refugees at 1.9million, followed by Pakistan at 1.5million. Other European countries host far more refugees than the UK (for example, over 500,000 in Germany).

What is the government doing to assist?

This is one of the worst humanitarian crises since World War II and the UK and Scottish Governments have made a commitment to support the refugee resettlement programme. 

How many refugees will come to East Ayrshire?

East Ayrshire Council has committed to working with the Scottish Government in any way possible to help those refugees in need of urgent assistance and support. The number of refugees arriving in Scotland is worked out proportionately at a national level, based on the size of each local authority area and their ability to help the incoming refugees. The Scottish Government has agreed to accommodate up to 2000 Syrian refugees across Scotland; of this East Ayrshire will receive up to 50 refugees over the next five years. This is a very small number compared to the population of 120,000 people in East Ayrshire. 

When will the refugees arrive in East Ayrshire?

Three families will arrive in East Ayrshire before Christmas 2015. 

How will East Ayrshire Council support these refugees?

East Ayrshire Council is well placed to support Syrian refugees in terms of the services and resources available. We have capacity in housing, schools and other key services. 

Can refugees work in the UK?

People fleeing from Syria have often left successful businesses or jobs, their savings and their pensions, their homes and all of their possessions. Refugees will arrive with citizenship rights, which mean they can work and want to work and contribute to the economy. Refugee families will contribute in the same ways as existing UK residents by paying taxes and national insurance.  

Can people ‘pretend’ to be refugees to get into the UK?

Candidates for resettlement to the UK have been classified by UNHCR field offices as refugees and selected on the basis that they have pressing humanitarian or security needs, are not able to return to their countries of origin and cannot integrate locally. The Home Office will decide who to accept under the UK programme.

Prior to arriving in the UK under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme, refugees have completed a thorough two-stage vetting process. When potential cases are submitted by the UNHCR for consideration they are screened and considered by the Home Office for suitability for entry to the UK. This includes taking further biometric data.

The Home Office retains the right to reject individuals on security, war crimes or other grounds, including where there is insufficient information to undertake effective screening.

How is the refugee settlement scheme financed?

The Home Office will fund the cost of integrating Syrian families into East Ayrshire. These costs include preparing empty properties, additional education needs, interpreting, English language classes, health costs and other integration costs. Funding will last for two years. Relocation costs will not be met from Council budgets. 

How well will they fit in with our local culture?

Integration is a two-way process and experience shows that the more people mix, the more likely they are to be accepting of groups they have not had contact with previously, and the more they realise they have much in common. We are working in close partnership with Police Scotland, the Department for Work and Pensions and community organisations to ensure that the integration of Syrian refugees is a positive experience for all.

How can local communities assist?

Local people can play a powerful and helpful role by supporting refugees and ensuring they feel welcome in our communities and our schools. East Ayrshire Council has been preparing for the arrival of the refugees who have been assigned to us by the Home Office. Service teams have been creating specific plans to support their arrival and integration across housing, health and social care, education, community support and other services as appropriate. We are also working closely with local churches, faith groups and community groups who have already stepped forward offering support.

Can the public donate items to help the refugees?

Yes toys and clothing can be handed in to The Graft Project – Lawson Street, Kilmarnock.

News release

Refugees to be welcomed to East Ayrshire

Contact Information

Housing Register Team
Civic Centre North
John Dickie Street
East Ayrshire
Telephone: 01563 554400