Negotiations over Norfolk taking in 50 Syrian refugees under way

A migrant girl tries to warm herself as she disembarks a boat at Lesbos Island, Greece last month. P

A migrant girl tries to warm herself as she disembarks a boat at Lesbos Island, Greece last month. Pic: AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov. - Credit: AP

Council leaders are waiting to hear back from the government after opening negotiations over Norfolk taking in 50 Syrian refugees.

The British government has agreed to take in 20,000 refugees over the next five years from the Syrian civil war, described as the biggest refugee crisis to hit Europe since the Second World War.

More than 1,700 people signed a petition calling for Norfolk to offer sanctuary to some of those refugees.

Norfolk councils have agreed that, in principle, the county could take 50 refugees, with Norwich City Council and Broadland District Council making a commitment to take them in the greater Norwich area.

Norfolk County Council is talking to the government over the refugees coming to the county, but funding and the need for specialised services remain sticking points.

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The council is waiting for pledges that there will be enough money from the government to provide the services it says are crucial if the refugees are to get the support they will need.

A spokeswoman for Norfolk County Council said: 'Over recent months, the county council has led work with the city, district and borough councils and Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group, identifying the key public services that vulnerable Syrian refugees will need - some of which do not currently exist in Norfolk - based on United Nations and Home Office guidance.

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'This work is now completed and we have a proposal, locally agreed at officer level, in place to resettle Syrian refugees. The proposal will of course be subject to political agreement by local councils.

'The proposal covers housing, orientation support, education and health. It also highlights a range of issues we think the government should address, to aid the successful integration of refugee families.

'This includes resolving delays in the time it takes for refugees to obtain personal identity documentation, which slows down their access to universal benefits and prevents them from opening a bank account or applying for jobs.

'We opened discussions with central government about our proposal in the new year. We expect to hear back shortly.'

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