New strategy for helping refugees in Scotland
A new strategy to help refugees and asylum seekers settle in Scotland has been announced.
More than 700 asylum seekers and refugees were involved in its development.
The New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy has been endorsed by the United Nations Refugee Agency.
Its main aims are to provide education, housing, healthcare and employment. It also aims to help refugees settle into the community and share their skills.
The strategy was developed collaboratively by the Scottish government, Cosla and the Scottish Refugee Council.
'Experience and talent'
Angela Constance, cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities, said: "For refugees, leaving home is not a choice - it is a necessity - and they need understanding, support and hope for their future when they settle in a new country.
"As refugees and asylum seekers rebuild their lives here they help to make Scotland stronger, more compassionate and a more successful nation."
Speaking on behalf of Cosla, councillor Kelly Perry said: "Since the first strategy was published, the global context has changed in ways we could not have expected and Scottish councils have been at the heart of our response to this.
"Councils across Scotland have resettled thousands through the Syrian Resettlement Programme and the Vulnerable Children's Resettlement Scheme and helped communities welcome their new neighbours.
"It is a testament to this work that so many asylum seekers and refugees joined in reviewing this integration strategy to ensure the voice of experience is central to changing things for the better."
A key policy of the new strategy is to ensure that refugees and asylum seekers understand their rights and options, and receive any welfare benefits they are entitled to.
Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, said: "The new Scots who live and work alongside us bring a wealth of experience and talent to Scotland and the new strategy will help us unlock and develop that potential.
"At the end of the day these refugees will be our neighbours, our colleagues and our customers. We don't want them to live in poverty, we want them to prosper and be proud of their own identities, proud of being Scottish, proud of being new Scots."