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Support for unaccompanied refugee children

Published: 26 Jan 2016 15:35
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Minister holds talks to discuss vulnerable youngsters.

Discussing support for unaccompanied refugee children will be a key priority for the Scottish Government's refugee taskforce, Humza Yousaf confirmed today.

The Minister for Europe and International Development held a meeting with Save the Children this afternoon to offer his support for unaccompanied youngsters to be welcomed into Scotland.

The charity is calling on the UK Government to accept 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees who have already reached Europe. During the meeting, Mr Yousaf expressed the Scottish Government's support and confirmed he will discuss the issue, including local authority capacity, with COSLA and other key stakeholders as a priority.

Between October and December 2015, Scotland welcomed nearly 400 Syrian refugees under the Syrian Resettlement Programme. The Scottish Government has restated its commitment to taking its fair and proportionate share of the total number coming to the UK. Half of Scotland's local authorities have now welcomed refugees to their areas.

In a letter to the International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, Humza Yousaf welcomed a package of support for the Syrian Resettlement Programme and applied pressure for the provision of a 'well resourced' plan to underpin the call to accept 3,000 unaccompanied youngsters into the UK. The Minister also urges the UK Government to work closely with local authorities and to ensure suitable funding is in place.

Mr Yousaf said:

"I welcome the Save the Children campaign. The decision to take in refugee children who are unaccompanied will rest with the UK Government, but Scotland will continue to support and welcome any refugees who arrive in the UK including children, and continue to discuss with local authorities any support required. The Scottish Government is working closely with COSLA to assess regional capacity.

"There has already been an overwhelming response from local authorities - Scotland has taken 40 per cent of all Syrian refugees who arrived in the UK before Christmas last year. People across Scotland have been quick to offer any help they can and the welcome given to refugees arriving in our communities has been outstanding.

"I again urge the UK Government to do more and increase the number of refugees they are prepared to accept, Scotland is willing to continue to play its part.

"The Scottish Government has repeatedly urged the UK to opt into the EU-wide scheme to relocate refugees who have arrived in Europe. We believe the UK has a moral obligation to take part in this scheme and we will continue to push for the Prime Minister to reconsider his decision."