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Renfrewshire to take asylum-seeking children

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Renfrewshire has confirmed it will soon be welcoming some unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from the refugee camp at Calais.

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The council is among the first in Scotland to work with the Home Office to take in children arriving in the UK after French authorities decided to close the camp known as The Jungle.

Seven young people are expected to arrive in Renfrewshire at some point over the next week, with council staff already having put appropriate care arrangements in place.

Councillors in Renfrewshire agreed in September to take in a small number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

It was originally thought these children may come from authorities such as Kent where the population of unaccompanied children is rising to unmanageable levels.

But due to the immediate humanitarian requirement, children from Calais are now being prioritised for support from local authorities.

Renfrewshire is already leading the way within Scotland on its work to resettle vulnerable people fleeing the Syrian conflict – the 81 refugees accepted by the area since last year is the second-highest of any local authority in the UK.

And council leader Mark Macmillan said: “Like me, residents will have been watching the situation in Calais become increasingly desperate in recent weeks.

“These are vulnerable children at risk of harm where they are and who have nowhere to go – this is a humanitarian crisis happening within Europe right now.

“I believe we have a moral duty to not just look the other way when we have the ability to help.

“So I am proud Renfrewshire has stepped up to do our share by offering to take some of the vulnerable children who have found themselves stuck in these horrible circumstances into our care.

“Renfrewshire welcomed a small group of Syrian refugees when they arrived in Paisley almost exactly a year ago – and some of those children are now thriving in the local community and our schools.

“I hope residents will show the same respect and compassion for those who have arrived here after fleeing persecution and suffering.”