Aberdeenshire rehomes 39 Syrian refugee families

Refugees are taken directly from non-Europeancountries where resettlement may be the only durable solution
Refugees are taken directly from non-Europeancountries where resettlement may be the only durable solution

A total of 39 families have been resettled into Aberdeenshire communities through the council’s refugee resettlement programme.

The local authority has revealed that 137 people have been provided with homes in the North-east – with a further eight babies having born into the scheme at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee will hear next week that the programme will resettle a remaining 19 families between now and March 2020.

In a report to go before councillors on Thursday next week, business service director Ritchie Johnson will explain that the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme was created to resettle 50 families via the Syrian Vulnerable Persons’ Relocation Scheme and eight families via the Vulnerable Children’s Relocation Scheme by 2020.

The Aberdeenshire Refugee Resettlement Team comprises a co-ordinator and four housing officers who work closely with the Home Office, United Nations High Commission for Refugees, COSLA and Aberdeenshire partners to resettle vulnerable families.

Mr Johnson says: “The Home Office target those in greatest need of assistance, including people requiring urgent medical treatment, survivors of

violence and torture, and women and children at risk.

“Aberdeenshire Council works closely with the Home Office and UNHCR, to identify those living in formal refugee camps, informal settlements and host communities who would benefit most from resettlement to the UK.”

Refugees are taken directly from non-European countries where resettlement may be the only durable solution, often from the region bordering countries with conflicts.

In the case of the VPRS and VCRS, this means those currently in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Families are accommodated primarily in private sector housing, with the council initially leasing properties on behalf of clients and then transitioning the tenancy after a two-year period.

Mr Johnson will tell councillors: “Housing is currently sought in Central Aberdeenshire as it provides good connectivity for health, transport, culture, education and employment.

“Other locations across Aberdeenshire may be considered in the future.”

Syrian and Iraqi clients have also been supported to establish Al Amal Project, a community development social enterprise run by and for the new Scots’ refugee community.

Among the activities have been Syrian Coffee Days, cultural exchanges and an Arabic School for children pilot. The innovative work of Al Amal Project has been recognised nationally by Scottish Government and Scottish Refugee and Council, with the chairperson winning the Young Scot Community Award in 2017.