Syrian refugee crisis

Frequently asked questions

What is a refugee?

Someone who has fled a country because they have been persecuted for being perceived to be a member of a religious, ethnic or political group. These people have been granted asylum in this country. People who will arrive in the UK as part of the Resettlement Scheme from Syria are refugees.

What has happened?

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed and injured in the conflict in their homeland, while others have been displaced as a result of the warfare.

We are keen that the Borders plays its part in providing support to the national co-ordinated effort to welcome refugees from war-torn Syria, in what is the biggest refugee exodus seen in Europe since World War II.

How many people will be coming?

The UK Government has agreed to take 20,000 refugees over five years, with the Scottish Government agreeing to accept 2,000 over the same period.

How many refugees will the Borders be taking?

We committed in September 2015 to taking in refugees and agreed at our Council meeting on 12 November 2015 to accept up to 10 families over four years, with four families being resettled initially in the Galashiels area in 2016.

Ten families is in line with the Borders’ share of the 2,000 refugees coming to Scotland on a population basis.

Why are you not taking more?

We expect the number of refugees to arrive in the Borders over the four year period to be line with the Borders’ share of the 2,000 refugees coming to Scotland.

Why is Galashiels hosting the first families?

It is considered the families need to be settled into an area with good transport links, access to local services and support networks. It was considered Galashiels was the best place for this, although other locations will be looked at as the scheme is rolled out.

How do you know these people will be genuine refugees not economic migrants?

We will only be taking refugees through the Home Office’s Syrian Vulnerable Person Scheme. In order for someone to be eligible for the scheme they must meet the criteria which makes them a genuine refugee. The Scheme prioritises refugees who are women and children at risk, people in severe need of medical care and survivors of torture and violence.

Where are they coming from?

They will come from specific refugee camps in the Middle East that the Home Office has identified under the Government’s SVP scheme.

How are they selected?

The refugees arriving in the UK under the SVP scheme will have been through a thorough two-stage vetting process involving the UNHCR and Home Office. This includes the taking of biometric information, documentary evidence and interviews.
When potential cases are submitted by the UNHCR for consideration for resettlement they are screened and considered by the Home Office for suitability for entry to the UK. This includes the taking of further biometric data and the Home Office retains the right to reject individuals on security, war crimes or other grounds, including where there is insufficient information to undertake effective screening.

Will there be any unaccompanied children?

No. Any children arriving in the Borders will be accompanied by their families.

When council services are being cut how will we meet the extra costs of taking refugees?

The costs of the resettlement programme will be met by the Home Office. These costs will be measured as the scheme continues.

How long will refugees stay here?

Under the UK Government scheme, they will be granted five years humanitarian protection after which they can decide to either return home if it is safe or apply to settle here under the usual Home Office rules.

Will Syrian refugees be able to claim benefits?

Those resettled under the Government scheme will arrive with refugee status allowing them to work and have access to benefits.

I want to get involved - what can I do?

A volunteer group has been established to support the families by the Borders Volunteer Centre.

Please contact the Borders Volunteer Centre if you are interested in volunteering to support the refugees.

Contact us

If you have any other questions, concerns or want to know how you can get involved to help, contact our Communications team online.