Wales

Syrian refugee numbers in Wales 'disappointing'

Syrian children Image copyright Getty Images

Only five local authorities in Wales have rehoused Syrian refugees, despite all 22 pledging to do so.

Home Office figures show Wales resettled 78 Syrian refugees between October 2015 and March while Scotland accepted more than 600.

Charities said the figures were "disappointing" and Wales "should step up to the plate".

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said more councils were at the ready and it was in active discussions.

Carys Mair Thomas, head of Oxfam Cymru, said: "What is stopping all local authorities from welcoming these families?

"Ceredigion has become a trailblazing Welsh council despite never previously welcoming refugees, and should encourage others, with far more experience in these matters, to step up to the plate."

Neath Port Talbot welcomed the most so far, 27, followed by Swansea with 24. Torfaen and Ceredigion took in 10 each, and Caerphilly seven.

In May, Wrexham agreed to take in five Syrian families, while in April, Anglesey also agreed to accept 10 families over the next three years.

Image caption A Cardiff summit was held in September 2015 to 'prepare the ground' for Syrian arrivals

All Welsh councils have committed to take part in the Home Office-funded scheme, which will resettle 20,000 displaced Syrians living in refugee camps in the UK by 2020.

In September 2015, First Minister Carwyn Jones called for more leadership on the refugee crisis, and indicated Wales would accept 500 to 600 refugees.

A total of 1,602 arrivals have been welcomed across the UK.

Oxfam said for Wales to meet its fair share, each council only needed to welcome fewer than 10 families each.

A WLGA spokesman said councils were dealing with "challenging reception and resettlement issues".

Image copyright AP
Image caption Discussions are underway for Welsh councils to accept unaccompanied Syrian child refugees

"A number of Welsh councils have already played their part. More are standing at the ready and will receive refugees later this year.

"We are confident Welsh authorities will play a full role in the next stage of a UK-wide Syrian refugee resettlement programme that is being coordinated by the Home Office."

A Home Office spokesman said local authorities signed up to the the scheme on a voluntary basis.

He said councils were asked to "think very carefully" about whether they have the infrastructure and support networks needed to ensure the "appropriate care and integration of these refugees" before telling the Home Office how many refugees they are able to accept.

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