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Refugee task force first meeting

Published: 8 Sep 2015 17:11

Dedicated online resource to be created to register public support.

The majority of Scotland's 32 councils have already indicated a willingness to accommodate refugees affected by the current humanitarian crisis, Europe Minister Humza Yousaf said today.

Mr Yousaf was speaking at the close of the first meeting of a new task force set up by the First Minister to coordinate Scotland's response to the crisis in southern Europe.

The task force also announced the creation of an online hub to signpost members of the public to information about how they can donate or register their willingness to help refugees in other ways.

During an emergency summit convened in Edinburgh on Friday, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland stands ready to take at least 1,000 new refugees as an immediate priority.

The operational task force brings together Scottish Ministers, the Scottish Refugee Council, the UK Government, local government and key stakeholders to coordinate Scotland's humanitarian and practical response. Its first meeting today considered issues including housing, health services, language support, and social services for refugees.

At its conclusion, Mr Yousaf said the task force heard from COSLA that they have had an "overwhelming, unprecedented response" from Local Authorities in making their initial inquires.

The Minister also confirmed the task force is developing an online hub of resources to signpost members of the public to information about how they can donate to the cause, register available accommodation, assist with lessons in English as a second language, assist in befriending services and direct the public to drop off hubs for donated materials.

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Europe and International Development said:

"We have repeatedly made clear that Scotland stands ready to play its part and take a fair share of refugees to help some of the most vulnerable people in need.

"Today's task force considered the immediate, practical actions we can take to help. In the first instance we are working with councils across Scotland to identify capacity to accommodate refugees, and what services we will need to put in place to support families to start a new life in safety in Scotland.

"It is very encouraging to hear that the majority of councils have indicated a willingness to accommodate refugees – we will now build on this positive response and ensure the appropriate support and integration services are put in place.

"We have seen overwhelming support for refugees through social media and other means – and the online resources we are developing will help to signpost people to information about the practical steps they can take to help. We expect this will go live in the coming days."

Notes to editors

The following organisations were represented at today's task force meeting:

The Scottish Government
UK Government
Scottish Refugee Council
British Red Cross
Glasgow Girls
STUC
New Scots
City of Edinburgh Council
Refugee Representative
COSLA
Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
DWP
Police Scotland

The task force was set up at an emergency summit convened last week by the First Minister. For more details see: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Scotland-responds-to-humanitarian-crisis-1ca3.aspx

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today met with representatives from different faith groups to discuss the work of these groups within our communities. Part of the their discussions focussed on the support offered by faith communities to the on-going humanitarian crisis.