Scottish Refugee Council launches winter appeal to help people fleeing war rebuild their lives.

A Scottish charity has launched an urgent appeal to help people fleeing conflicts like those in Syria, Palestine and Sudan, to seek sanctuary in Scotland.

Scottish Refugee Council’s winter appeal calls on Scots to remember that many of these conflicts are ‘closer to home than you think’. The appeal asks Scots to donate to help the charity continue its services to protect refugees and help people rebuild their lives in Scotland.

This year alone, Scottish Refugee Council has helped over 1,000 new arrivals in Scotland – men, women and families fleeing conflict, torture and political and religious persecution in their own countries.

Human rights abuses

Many people flee for their lives after standing up against horrendous human rights abuses, both in war zones and under dictatorships.  Others are targeted by militia and government forces and women may have faced sexual violence at the hands of their torturers.

However, when they seek help at Scottish Refugee Council, resources are scarce. The UK Government has halved funding for asylum support in the last 18 months and ended funding for integration support.

Scottish Refugee Council asylum support teams are currently working at double their capacity to meet people’s needs.

My family – my wife and twin boys, just one year old at the time – were held by the police to make me give myself up." Abu Basil

Abu Basil, a 44-year-old businessman from Syria, knows how essential these services are.

He said: “In 2011, inspired by the Arab Spring, I helped to organise peaceful demonstrations in Damascus. In April, nine of my friends were killed in front of me, and one was arrested. Under torture he named me as an organiser of the protests.

“I went into hiding. My family – my wife and twin boys, just one year old at the time – were held by the police to make me give myself up. It was terrible. My brother helped me flee. I bribed officials and flew to the UK.

“In Scotland I was sent to Scottish Refugee Council. They helped me to get housing, and to bring my family to the UK. I now have refugee status and am working to build a new life here in Scotland.”

Mark Adams, Head of Funding Development, at Scottish Refugee Council said: “This winter we are calling on people to remember that we are lucky to live in peace in Scotland. Not everyone is so fortunate.

“When people seek sanctuary in Scotland they often arrive with little more than the clothes they were wearing when they managed to escape. They need help to rebuild their lives and your donations can make that happen. Please give all that you can to our winter appeal.”

For more information please contact media officers Karin Goodwin or Pauline Diamond on 0141 223 7927 or 07850 930418 or email media@scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk

Notes to editors

  1. The Scottish Refugee Council Winter Appeal will run from Monday, December 3 until Wednesday, 28 February.

Donate on line: go to www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk/appeal to make a one off donation or set up a direct debit.

Donate by text: simply text the code RFGE26 followed by the amount £3, £5, £10 to 70070.  There’s no charge for the text and every penny goes to our winter appeal.

2. Since 1985, Scottish Refugee Council has worked to ensure all refugees in Scotland are treated fairly, with dignity and that their human rights are respected.  We are an independent charity, providing essential information and advice. We also campaign for political change, raise awareness about issues that affect refugees, and work closely with local communities and organisations.