There is still no date for the resettlement of Syrian refugees locally – almost three months after East Dunbartonshire Council pledged to play its part in the crisis.
At the beginning of November, councillors unanimously voted to “receive vulnerable families and unaccompanied asylum seeking children under the Syrian Resettlement Programme”.
A few weeks later, the council said there would be “a further update” on plans to identify housing and support for four refugee families and four unaccompanied children at the next council meeting. This took place on Thursday, December 22.
No date for their arrival was forthcoming at the meeting, but afterwards a council spokesperson insisted “progress is being made.”
Council leader Rhondda Geekie added: “We have established a working group locally which has already met. It includes representatives from across housing, health and social care and education along with others who will all play an important part in welcoming and supporting the resettlement of those that come to East Dunbartonshire through these two schemes.
“We have now agreed that once appropriate housing and accommodation has been identified, officers will liaise with the Home Office to progress arrangements for the relocation to this area of families and children whose needs we can meet.
“I am greatly encouraged by the commitment of our Council teams and our Partners to work together to provide the full packages of support required to create better lives here in East Dunbartonshire for those that have experienced such terrible atrocities.”
The council spokesperson added: “Further reports will be provided to future Council meetings on progress being made by the Working Group and the timescales for relocation as these are confirmed.”
Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP Rona Mackay recently urged the council to speed up plans for the intake of refugees, adding that the region is well equipped to welcome more.
She said: “I am proud to be part of welcoming people from miserable, war-torn existence into East Dunbartonshire.
“The conditions and experiences these children and families have gone through can only be described as a nightmare.
“I hope East Dunbartonshire Council will get a move on with these plans because time is of the essence when it comes to helping these very vulnerable people.”
The MSP, along with Twechar Health and Living Enterprise Centre (THLEC) have arranged a special welcoming community team to help integrate and welcome the refugees.