Norfolk agrees to take in 100 more refugees from Syria

A Syrian refugee holds her daughter while standing outside her tent at an informal tented settlement

A Syrian refugee holds her daughter while standing outside her tent at an informal tented settlement near the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan, Pic: AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen - Credit: AP

Councillors have agreed that one hundred more Syrian refugees could be welcomed to a new life in Norfolk over the next two years - so long as district councils are content with the move.

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 only willing to pay £1m towards resettlement costs - leaving a £400,000 shortfall.

However, district councils plugged part of the gap by agreeing to make a contribution towards the costs of hosing 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.

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And, at a meeting of Norfolk County Council's policy and resources committee today, county councillors agreed to continue with the Home Office funded scheme, with a further one hundred Syrian refugees to be settled in Greater Norwich over the next two years.

James Bullion, director of adult social care at Norfolk County Council, said the Home Office funding meant resettling the refugees would be cost neutral to County Hall, although discussions needed to be had with district councils.

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The first 12 months of a refugee's resettlement costs are fully funded by central government.

The refugees would be rehoused in Norwich and Broadland and Mr Bullion praised people for the way the refugees who have arrived so far have been welcomed.

And Martin Wilby, chairman of the council's environment, development and transport committee, said: 'I am pleased with the way the scheme has worked so far.' The committee agreed to support the resettlement of 50 more Syrian refugees for each of the next two years, pending discussions with district councils.

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

The conflict began when demonstrations calling for the overthrow of president Bashar al-Assad were violently oppressed by government forces.

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