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Further 100 refugees fleeing Syrian civil war to be housed in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 11:14 13 September 2018 | UPDATED: 11:34 13 September 2018

A Syrian refugee holds her daughter on the outskirts of Mafraq in Jordan. Pic: AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen

A Syrian refugee holds her daughter on the outskirts of Mafraq in Jordan. Pic: AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen

A hundred more refugees from the civil war in Syria are to be offered a new life in Norfolk - but council bosses say it will be a “challenge” to find them housing.

Norwich City Council deputy leader Gail Harris. Pic: Archant Library.Norwich City Council deputy leader Gail Harris. Pic: Archant Library.

Norfolk County Council voted in July 2016 to accept 50 vulnerable Syrian refugees through the government’s resettlement scheme, which set a target to offer sanctuary to 20,000 people fleeing civil war over five years.

The vote was taken following a wrangle over the cost of providing support to the refugees, with Westminster not covering the full costs.

However, district councils plugged part of the gap by agreeing to make a contribution towards the costs of housing the refugees in Norwich and Broadland.

Fifty-two Syrian refugees, from 12 different families, have been housed in the Greater Norwich area, not in council homes, but in private accommodation sourced through the councils’ private sector leasing schemes.

The county council agreed in July that the county would continue with the Home Office funded scheme, with a further hundred Syrian refugees to be settled in Greater Norwich over the next two years.

The move was backed this week by Norwich City Council’s cabinet, but it still hinges on all district councils agreeing to contribute up to £8,600 a year to help cover the costs.

And Gail Harris, deputy leader at City Hall and cabinet member for social housing, said: “We were delighted to participate in the scheme and it is to everybody’s credit that families have settled in, are enjoying life in Norfolk and have had such amazing support.

“However, it was a challenge to find the accommodation and we must not underestimate the challenge to find the necessary accommodation this time.

“But, as has been said time after time, Norwich is a caring city and we have the chance to make a difference to people’s lives.”

The Labour-controlled cabinet agreed to house the refugees through the private sector leasing scheme, subject to the funding being agreed by all councils.

Green group leader Denise Carlo said: “This is very welcome news and the council’s contribution is very moderate for something which will change people’s lives for the better.”

Since the outbreak of civil war in 2011, about 4.3m Syrians have fled abroad.

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