First Syrian refugee families arrive in Northern Ireland

In accordance with UK’s Vulnerable Persons Relocations Scheme, first group of Syrian refugee families have arrived in Northern Ireland

Photo by: the Guardian
Photo by: the Guardian

Denise Wright, co-ordinator for Refugee Asylum Forum, holding up a poster to welcome Syrian refugees to Northern Ireland, Belfast

A number of 51 refugees arrived in Northern Ireland on Monday, in conjunction with the UK's Vulnerable Persons Relocations Scheme. 

The UK’s Vulnerable Persons Relocations Scheme will allow for the resettlement of 20,000 Syrian refugees across the UK over the next five years. These refugees will be hosted in a special welcome centre during their first few days, they will then move into a private rented sector in Belfast. Each one of the refugee families will then be assisted on the matter of finding a home, a job and possible schools for their children.

Denise Wright, co-ordinator for Refugee Asylum Forum, explained the process the refugees will go through when they arrive in Northern Ireland.

"They'll be taken to a welcome centre where they'll obviously get a meal and just recuperate from the travel," she said.

"Over the next few days they will be going through the systems in order to get recorded on different databases and make sure they get everything they are entitled to and link them up with key workers who will help them get through that process."

Mrs Wright explains the enthusiasm and welcoming nature of the people of Belfast,"obviously these are only 10 families that are coming. There are only so many buggies and so many bags of clothes we can take so we had suggested that people might send us welcome cards."

She went on to say that, ‘’hundreds and hundreds’’ of cards have so far been sent with the aim of making the Syrian refugees feel welcome.

Some of the conditions of the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme are as follows: all paperwork is completed before the arrival of the refugees, first priority is given to women and children who are at risk, those who require medical care and also those who have survived torture and violence.

With this scheme, people will be able to have access to housing, education and medical care. They will also be able to work. The Home Office will supply £10,000 worth of funding to each refugee for the first year.

Refugees who have been resettled in the UK under the scheme will be given five years of humanitarian protection which consists of being able to access public funds, the labour market and there will be a chance of family reunion, in the case a refugee was parted from a family member when leaving their country. After these five years, they may make an application to settle in the UK.

Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey, chair of the social development committee, has said that the main aim concerning the refugees was to make sure their arrival was without complications and that respect was given to their privacy.


TRTWorld and agencies