As part of the ongoing events for World Refugee Day, MSPs today held a debate on ‘Supporting People to Settle in Scotland’ in Holyrood this afternoon. World Refugee Day honours the strength and courage of refugees while encouraging public awareness and support.
Michelle Ballantyne, opening for the Scottish Conservatives, emphasised the role Borders communities have played in welcoming refugee to Scotland. The South Scotland MSP highlighted Scottish Borders Reach 2018, a scheme organised by TD1 Youth Hub, the Scottish Refugee Centre and Volunteer Centre Borders to bringing young people and refugees together. The project looks to bring together young people from Syria and Galashiels to share experiences and learn from each other.
Mrs Ballantyne went on to praise the work of the UK Government, in particular singling the efforts of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines for their tireless work in the Mediterranean rescuing refugees and targeting human traffickers. The South Scotland MSP also noted the efforts of the UK Government, with the Home Office issuing over 24,000 family reunion visas in the last five years. Another programme, the Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme, reached the halfway point in its commitment to resettle 20,000 people, with 10,538 refugees already settled in the UK.
Michelle Ballantyne MSP commented:
“Integrating into a new society is challenging. We show our humanity and care by recognising that challenge and by ensuring there is the support available that these families need to find their feet.
“I am proud of the role the United Kingdom is playing here. Contributions are being made at all levels of society, whether it is the work of the UK Government, the New Scots Strategy to help integrate refugees, or the acts of individual communities.
“The Scottish Borders has now welcomed five Syrian refugee families to the area, all of whom are making considerable efforts to integrate into their new communities, overcoming cultural and language barriers, and I wish them all the very best of luck.
“Meanwhile, I would like to thank our armed forces for the humanitarian role they play in rescuing and protecting refugees, in particular the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, who continue to patrol the Mediterranean, rescuing migrants and refugees while targeting the human traffickers profiting from their misery.”