Scotland welcomes refugees
Next phase in strategy to support refugees.
A new strategy to welcome refugees to Scotland is being developed by the Scottish Government, COSLA and the Scottish Refugee Council.
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance announced there will be an open discussion with refugees, local authorities, the public and third sectors ahead of the new strategy being put in place next year.
The current strategy – ‘New Scots 2014 – 2017’ has provided a vital basis for working together to enable the integration of all new refugees in Scottish communities, and demonstrated Scotland’s exemplary response to the refugee crisis.
Following a visit to Maryhill Integration Network this morning, where Ms Constance met with families who arrived in Scotland through the Syrian Resettlement Programme this year, the Cabinet Secretary said:
“Scotland has a long history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world. This country’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria has been phenomenal – we have welcomed almost 1,200 refugees through the Syrian resettlement programme.
“We are acutely aware there have been dramatic global changes since the launch of the New Scots strategy in 2013. The war in Syria and instability in other areas around the world have escalated the crisis that we cannot ignore.
“Over the past three years the Scottish Government, COSLA and the Scottish Refugee Council have worked together, crucially, with the contribution of asylum seekers and refugees, to ensure the best possible approach to welcoming refugees.
“This new strategy will allow us to continue to provide a warm welcome to those seeking protection, safety and security.”
Alison Strang, Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Global Health and Development at Queen Margaret University and Chair of the new Scots Core Group said:
“It has been hugely encouraging over the past year to see the way so many of the people and institutions of Scotland have given a very real and warm welcome to refugees.
“High levels of commitment to respond to the needs of Syrian refugees arriving in Scotland have enabled these families to settle quickly into housing, health and social care and education. It is important we continue to consolidate these improvements to welfare systems, and to ensure all people with refugee status in this country receive appropriate and prompt support.
“I would encourage our local authorities to involve local people in meeting refugees and other migrants, and build new lives together.”
Wafa Shaheen, Head of Services Scottish Refugee Council, said:
“ New Scots has been a unique and world-leading strategy supporting the integration of refugees in Scotland. Bringing together refugees, statutory agencies and voluntary organisations, it has focussed practical action towards realising a collective vision of Scotland as a place where refugees are able to build a new life from the moment they arrive in Scotland and to realise their full potential.
“We have seen an amazing response to the humanitarian crisis facing refugees. Scotland has welcomed Syrian families across the breadth of our country and has continued to provide sanctuary to men, women and children fleeing other conflicts and human rights abuses across the world. In light of developments, it is right that we take stock and revision a new strategy to guarantee that no matter where they arrive in Scotland, refugees are supported to access appropriate services, achieve their rights, build social connections and become active members of their new communities.
“As the leading refugee charity in Scotland, Scottish Refugee Council is delighted to contribute our 30 years’ experience of working with refugees to ensure that refugees, their rights and experiences remain at the heart of the next steps of New Scots and Scotland remains at the forefront of refugee integration.”
Cllr Harry McGuigan, COSLA Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing said:
"Scottish local authorities strive to make Scotland a safe and welcoming place for asylum seekers and refugees and this has been demonstrated through the Syrian Resettlement Scheme which has seen around 1,200 people relocated across almost every local authority area in the past year. The response from local authorities, their communities and their partner organisations has been extraordinary.
“The current New Scots strategy has provided a framework for much of the resettlement work across Scotland. It has also provided an important focus for the team within COSLA as they work to support councils to understand how their existing partnerships and expertise in supporting vulnerable people can be put into action to help refugees. The new strategy will reflect work that is going on across the country and will bring a Scotland-wide focus to refugee integration.
“I’m pleased to see that there is going to be good representation from local authorities who have recently become involved in refugee integration at this year's New Scots Conference. We look forward to working with Scottish Government, Scottish Refugee Council and other partners, old and new, as we continue to work together under the banner of the New Scots strategy to improve the lives of refugees and asylum seekers across Scotland. Today’s conference is an excellent opportunity for people to come together to develop new partnerships and strengthen existing ones."
The “Scotland Welcomes Refugees – Impact and Next Steps” conference will celebrate two years of implementation of Scotland’s refugee integration strategy, New Scots: Integrating Refugees in Scotland’s Communities.
The response of the Scottish national and local government, and our third sector to the refugee crisis has been exemplary. A year on from the UK Prime Minister announcement that the UK will resettle 20,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees by 2020, nearly all Scottish Local Authorities have now provided homes to refugees.
The conference will bring together key stakeholders invested in integration in Scotland, to recognise achievements, highlight on-going challenges and identify priorities for the next phase of the New Scots strategy.
The current New Scots strategy can be seen here: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0043/00439604.pdf
Home Office statistics show that up to 30 June 2016 Scotland welcomed a third of refugees arriving to the UK under the expanded Syrian Resettlement Programme. Published statistics are available on the UK Government website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-april-to-june-2016/asylum