MSP’s call to council: “Show some commitment to refugees”

A young Syrian refugee pictured in a container camp
A young Syrian refugee pictured in a container camp

Council bosses have been urged again by local MSP Rona Mackay to speed up the resettlement of refugees in East Dunbartonshire.

In December, councillors rubber-stamped plans to provide asylum to four Syrian families and four unaccompanied children from ‘The Jungle’ in Calais.

A month earlier, councillors had unanimously voted to “receive vulnerable families and unaccompanied asylum seeking children under the Syrian Resettlement Programme”.

However, the Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP said there has been “radio silence since the December 27 meeting when council leader Rhondda Geekie confirmed the wheels were in motion”.

Ahead of meeting refugees at a Scottish Parliament breakfast on Thursday February 2, Ms Mackay has pressed the council again to speed up the process.

She said: “East Dunbartonshire Council has been terribly slow on showing compassion to the innocent victims of war in Syria, and the children escaping the nightmarish camp in Calais.

“It was unacceptable to begin with how the local authority was the second last in Scotland to even consider helping out in this humanitarian crisis.

“I am proud to be part of the plans to form a community welcoming group for the incoming families and children, and we would like to get helping as soon as possible.

“Syria lies in ruins and the brutal war shows no signs of ending – we must do all what we can to help the civilians who have been forced to flee their homes. I call on East Dunbartonshire Council to show some commitment to its decision and speed up this resettlement process.

“I hope in the future we can accept more than a handful of people fleeing the carnage of Syria.”

At the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Ms Mackay is meeting activist Bruna Kadletz, who has been intensely involved in the refugee crisis, as well as others who have fled the war.

Council Leader Rhondda Geekie said: “Please be assured that a lot of work is going on behind the scenes just now to make sure that refugees can be

settled in East Dunbartonshire.

“Vital support such as accommodation and health services must be in place before our Working Group confirms to the Home Office that refugees can be properly welcomed here.

“This is taking place at the moment and once this work has been completed, we expect refugees to arrive in the area within a matter of weeks.

“We are also in the process of collating the groups and organisations which have told the Council that they would like to welcome refugees, and we will

be engaging with them once timescales for arrivals are finalised.”