Scotland to take in 300 refugees before Christmas

MORE than 300 Syrian refugees are to arrive in Scotland before Christmas, it has emerged.

Thousands - many fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan - are hoping to find refuge across Europe. Picture: AFP/Getty

Around one third of the 1,000 refuges destined for the UK will be received north of the border – a proportion beyond Scotland’s population share.

International Development minister Humza Yousaf described the action as a “great symbol” of Scotland’s compassion.

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After the Scottish Government’s refugee taskforce, chaired by Mr Yousaf, met yesterday, the minister said: “Scotland’s response to the humanitarian crisis has been phenomenal and we have been working to ensure we provide a very warm welcome to those who come to Scotland seeking protection, safety and security.

“It is a great symbol of our compassion that Scotland is expected to take a third of refugees arriving before Christmas while making up only 10 per cent of the UK population. Areas such as local government, housing, health services, language support, transport and social services are crucial to this, and the taskforce has worked to ensure these services are ready.”

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said the destination of the refugees has yet to be worked through. Pressure to admit more refugees to the UK grew after images of those fleeing Syria and other war-torn regions to reach Europe hit the headlines.

David Cameron has said the UK will not be involved in any European Union (EU) refugee quota system or help with the thousands of refugees already in Europe.

Instead, the Prime Minister has said the UK will take 20,000 refugees from camps over the next five years.

Yesterday a Scottish Government spokeswoman indicated that as more refugees come to the UK, the numbers will even out so that Scotland ends up with its population share.

When asked if First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would 
be putting up any in her house, the spokeswoman replied: “It is the local authorities who are taking forward this work, so I fully expect these 300 to be accommodated in a number of local authorities across Scotland.”

In an interview earlier this year, the First Minister claimed should be “absolutely happy” to open her home to people fleeing war and violence in the Middle East, if that was required.