News Wednesday, May 4th Words by: Bill Tanner and Lauren Rogers

Refugee resettlement: Herefordshire to take in 60 Syrian refugees

News Wednesday, May 4th

Refugee resettlement: Herefordshire to take in 60 Syrian refugees

Around 4.8 million Syrians have been forced to flee their country, displaced by civil war.

This September - 12 months after the British government pledged to take in 20,000 Syrians by 2020, Herefordshire is due to welcome 60 of them.

The figure is tiny in context but Herefordshire Council has already drafted a ‘communications strategy', bracing itself for criticism and concern around the impact on schools, health services and slashed budgets.

Last month Oxfam accused the government of "pretending this is someone else's problem" and urged Britain, the fifth biggest economy in the world, to do more, much more, to help the record number of displaced Syrians. 

MustafaKhayat Syrian refugee camp Karkosik

Chlidren at the Syrian refugee camp, Karkosik Erbil. Photo by Mustafa Khayat via Flickr, CC

In accepting refugees, Herefordshire Council is following the government’s apparent expectation that every local authority will resettle at least 50 of the 20,000 people from Syria and its borders. 

Refugees brought directly from camps and settlements around the Syrian borders must meet at least one of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)’s seven vulnerability criteria to be considered. That means children and women at risk, survivors of torture or violence, disabled people or those with significant health needs – coming in family groups.

The council is working with voluntary, community and faith organisations in finalising the shape of the support services required, having first indicated its willingness to welcome up to 60 refugees to the county last September.

The men, women and children - 18 families in total - will arrive in stages. 

Local health agencies said they'll ensure each will be registered with a GP, wherever they are located. 

For housing, the first focus will be on private sector accommodation, with the council acknowledging that suitable houses are 'not likely to be available in sufficient numbers in one location'.

MustafaKhayat yrian refugee camp girl

Syrian refugee camp, Karkosik Erbil. Photo by Mustafa Khayat via Flickr, CC

To help both the refugee families and the areas where they move to, Herefordshire Council is considering a two-year support package to worth around £540k that will go out to contract.

A contracted resettlement service – working collaboratively on the capabilities required and patterns of practice nationally – could include social housing providers, specialist refugee and asylum agencies and other voluntary organisations with local and cultural knowledge.

The government will allocate money to local authorities on a per capita basis for each refugee, funding support for the first two years. In the first year, the government will also provide £4,500 for the education of each child over 5 years old and £2,200 towards NHS costs for each person.

Additional funding is available on a case by case basis to support individuals with complex needs in relation to health, social care or education.

Various county groups and organisations have already offered support - help the council described as ‘critical’ in helping the refugee families settle into Herefordshire communities.

You can donate to the British Red Cross' Syria Crisis Appeal and Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal at www.redcross.org.uk.

Alone in Azraq: A Syrian teenager's story

Surviving One of the Deadliest Routes to Europe: Refugees at Sea

HerefordshireLive vertlogo

Image credits

Tile image: Syrian refugee children at a half-built apartment block near Reyfoun in Lebanon, close to the border with Syria, give the peace sign. The families fled Syria due to the war and are now living on a building site. Photo: Eoghan Rice, via Flickr, CC

Do you want to write for Herefordshire Live? Get in touch on Facebook, Twitter or say hello@herefordshirelive.co.uk