Opening our arms to Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees
Refugees queuing for food parcels in heavily bombed Yarmouk, Syria, January 2014 (Photo: UNRWA Archives)

Scottish Refugee Council welcomes the decision by Glasgow City Council to bring 50 of the most vulnerable refugees to Glasgow and to offer them the chance to rebuild their lives.

Glasgow and Scotland have a proud record of welcoming people who have escaped horrendous conflict and persecution, be it through government resettlement programmes or people dispersed to Glasgow as part of the UK asylum process.

From Vietnamese and Chilean refugees in the 1970s, to Bosnians and Kosovans in the 1990s, and Congloese, Afghanis, and Iraqis since 2000, Scotland's communities have embraced refugees resettled here by the UK Government from across the world. 

The most vulnerable

We are proud this heritage continues today with Syrians. As many of these vulnerable refugees are women and children who have experienced torture and violence, they will have complex needs and will need our empathy and emotional support as well as practical help to settle in to their new communities.

The scale and gravity of events in Syria are immense with four million refugees expected by the end of this year, half of whom are children. We all need to pull together to help people that have had their lives shattered by a searing civil war and who may have, literally, lost everything.

This is a good start to showing our solidarity with those who have been forced to flee their former lives and homes, and who have been through experiences few of us can begin to imagine.

Opening our arms

Therefore we hope that Glasgow and indeed other local authorities in conjunction with the Scottish Government can continue to provide humanitarian admission and support services to more Syrian refugees in the months and years ahead, and we encourage the resettlement of the most vulnerable refugees as a matter of urgency.

We agree with Glasgow City Council Leader Gordon Matheson when he said recently that this is “the right thing to do” and with Humza Yousaf MSP, Scottish Minister for External Affairs and International Development, who said that Scotland “should stand with them, open our arms to them, welcome them, and make this as much of a home as it possibly can be”.

Scottish Refugee Council and many of our partners are willing and ready not just to offer a welcome to these men, women, and children from Syria, but also to make sure they have access to the joined-up services that they will need to settle in to their new environment.