Praise for warmth of Scottish welcome from new neighbours
Hundreds of refugees have been arriving on Scottish soil over the past month. Half of Scotland's local authorities have now received refugees in their areas, and the other half have indicated a willingness to support refugees affected by the current humanitarian crisis.
Now refugees have been welcomed to their new home, all thoughts are turning to helping them become fully integrated members of their communities. Children are starting school, adults are beginning to learn English and help is at hand to begin the process of helping people to find work.
Mr Yousaf praised the outstanding response of Scotland's local authorities and all those involved in finding the refugees new homes and helping smooth their introduction into Scottish life.
And he said he had been "bowled over" by the warmth of the welcome extended to the refugees from their new communities. More than three thousand people have signed up to offer help on the Scotland Welcomes Refugees website with more than 1,400 signing up to help refugees since the first arrival one month ago.
Speaking ahead of the final refugee taskforce meeting before Christmas, which takes place tomorrow, Mr Yousaf praised the response the refugees had received.
Mr Yousaf said:
"Hundreds of refugees have stepped off planes onto Scottish soil in the past few weeks. Fleeing terror and tyranny, many were expecting to face a freezing winter under canvas in refugee camps.
"Instead they are settled into safe new homes and have laid the foundations for a happy and productive new life in Scotland.
"I am pleased all now have homes, and all have or are well on the way to having the documents they need to start a new life in Scotland.
"I am deeply proud of the Scottish people who have extended the warmest possible hand of friendship to our newest neighbours.
"I've heard heartwarming tales – people walking up to refugees in the street and giving them hugs of welcome, offers of friendship, support and practical help, from arranging special community film screenings for refugees to giving them welcome gifts of food hampers, warm clothes and hot water bottles.
"There is much more work to be done over the next few weeks and months to support the refugees as they work to pick up the threads of their lives afresh in Scotland.
"But I am confident that our country, and in particular our people, are more than equal to this challenge.
"And I'm sure the vast majority of Scots will join me in wishing the refugees who have arrived in this country a safe and secure first Christmas here, and a happy New Year."