More than 100 flee­ing war-torn state get new home in Cov

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - Lucy Lynch News Reporter lucy.lynch@coven­try­tele­

COVEN­TRY has taken in more Syr­ian refugees than any other UK city ac­cord­ing to new government sta­tis­tics.

The city pro­vided a home for 105 peo­ple flee­ing the war-torn state be­tween Oc­to­ber and March.

The refugees were given a home in Coven­try as part of the government’s Syr­ian Vul­ner­a­ble Per­sons Re­set­tle­ment Scheme.

Coven­try City Coun­cil was one of 71 coun­cils around the coun­try which vol­un­teered to be part of the scheme.

Since March more have ar­rived and the num­ber now stands at 194.

Coun Abdul Khan (Lab, Foleshill) deputy leader of Coven­try City Coun­cil, said: “Coven­try cases have in­cluded refugees with sig­nif­i­cant med­i­cal needs and a num­ber of fam­i­lies af­fected by the vi­o­lence of the con­flict in Syria.

“We have ac­cepted them be­cause it is the right thing to do.

“The refugees have ex­pe­ri­enced some of the worst as­pects of hu­man be­hav­iour, and when in Septem­ber 2015 we were asked to of­fer fur­ther places to the na­tional scheme, we did so.”

Out of a to­tal of 1,602 Syr­i­ans Not­ting­ham took in 81 the next high­est amount be­hind Coven­try.

Re­gion­ally Scot­land took in the high­est share, help­ing 610 peo­ple, fol­lowed by York­shire and the Hum­ber who took in 171.

None were re­set­tled in the North West and 33 were placed in Lon­don.

David Cameron an­nounced plans to step up the Syr­ian Vul­ner­a­ble Per­sons Re­set­tle­ment Scheme last year af­ter pub­lic out­cry over the fate of those driven to at­tempt to make the per­ilous cross­ing of the Mediter­ranean by boat.

The Government has pledged to re­set­tle 20,000 peo­ple from the re­gion around the war-torn coun­try by 2020.

Coun­cil bosses say all the costs are met by cen­tral government.

Jane Moore, di­rec­tor of pub­lic health at Coven­try City Coun­cil said: “More than two years ago the Home Of­fice wrote to all lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in the UK seeking vol­un­teers to re­set­tle Syr­ian Refugees in des­per­ate need – peo­ple judged by United Na­tions High Com­mis­sion for Refugees to be the most vul­ner­a­ble and at risk of harm.

“Af­ter in­ter­nal dis­cus­sions and con­sul­ta­tion with part­ners across the city, and with agree­ment and sup­port of all coun­cil­lors, we of­fered Coven­try as a host city to the na­tional government.

“Whilst the whole com­mu­nity has come to­gether to wel­come refugees into their com­mu­ni­ties we have only been able to re­set­tle refugees so suc­cess­fully be­cause of the ef­forts of staff and vol­un­teers at Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Coven­try, the Coven­try law Cen­tre and the Coven­try Refugee Cen­tre.

“Lo­cal faith lead­ers, es­pe­cially Bishop Christo­pher, have also wel­comed ev­ery­one so warmly.

“NHS staff, doc­tors and nurses, paramedics and man­agers – have also been amaz­ing – giv­ing the care needed in the most press­ing of cir­cum­stances.” A Home Of­fice spokesman said: “The UK has been at the fore­front of the in­ter­na­tional re­sponse to the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in Syria. We have com­mit­ted to re­set­tling 20,000 Syr­ian refugees through our Vul­ner­a­ble Per­sons Re­set­tle­ment (VPR) scheme over the course of this par­lia­ment - and have al­ready pro­vided refuge to more than 1,600 peo­ple in need of pro­tec­tion.

“There has been a tremen­dous amount of good­will from lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and the pri­vate, non-gov­ern­men­tal and vol­un­tary sec­tors as well as from in­di­vid­u­als across the UK.

“We are very grate­ful for all the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties who have of­fered their sup­port and will con­tinue to work with them to iden­tify fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­set­tle Syr­ian fam­i­lies.”

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