UP TO 1,600 refugees fleeing Syria could make their new home in Wales over the next few years, following the announcement from Westminster that it plans to allow 20,000 refugees find asylum in the United Kingdom over 5 years.
The Welsh Refugee Council (WRC) said that it was ready to take its share of those coming to the United Kingdom, it currently takes in 8% of refugees who seek asylum across the UK. The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) also declared local Welsh councils ready to take in refugees but highlighted the need for “sufficient long-term financial support”.
Hannah Warf, WRC Policy Manager, told the BBC the WRC was pleased by the UK government’s change in policy concerning the resettlement and relocation of Syrian refugees. However, she went on to criticise the proposed timeframe, stating that “20,000 [refugees] over five years isn’t fast enough”, and called for the admittance of these refugees over the “next year or so”.
She went on to say:
“At the moment Wales takes 8% of refugees who seek asylum across the UK. We don’t know the details of how that will pan out with this new scheme unfolding, but we do know that Wales is ready to take its fair share of 8% of 20,000 – that’s just about 1,600 refugees to be taken across Wales. Local authorities have been having ongoing conversations across Wales about how best to support people who come into local communities. We know there’s a huge surge of support.”
Home office figures show that almost all the asylum seekers who came to Wales between April and June 2015 have settled in urban areas with existing minority populations, like Cardiff, Newport, Swansea and Wrexham.
Dyfed Edwards, councillor and WLGA spokesperson for housing, said that Welsh councils will play a vital role, adding:
“From meeting the housing, schooling, and complex care needs of some of the world’s most vulnerable people, local councils throughout Wales and the UK will have a huge role to play. If they are to realistically meet this demand they will need sufficient long-term financial support from central Government.”
The Welsh Government is to hold a summit sometime during the week beginning 14th September to plan a response to the refugee crisis. However, the Home Office says it’s too early to outline how many of the refugees may end up in Wales or when they would start arriving.
The 12th of September saw a Day of Action across the UK with a series of events being held to show support of the impending arrival of refugees. A newly set up group, Friends of Refugees in Caernafon showed their support by creating a human chain around the town’s castle. The group was set up the weekend before the Day of Action, and are also in the process of organising a food and clothes collection to send to refugees in various camps.