Moray refugee crisis response is ‘becoming more focussed’

Greater urgency generated by Monday's refugee crisis meeting
Greater urgency generated by Monday’s refugee crisis meeting

MORAY’S SUPPORT NETWORK for refugee families trying to escape war-torn Middle Eastern countries is becoming more organised as the first refugees start to arrive in the country.

Following Monday’s landmark meeting of individuals and groups determined to offer their services in support of the crisis, the online focus for their efforts has been renamed with Moray CalAid becoming ‘Moray Supports Refugees’.

“This means we can take a broader look at the various ways support can be given,” a spokeswoman for the online campaign said, adding: “It also brings Moray into line with other local campaigns in Scotland.

“We are really excited and pleased at the outcome of Monday’s meeting where it was agreed that a steering group would be set up to coordinate Moray’s response to the crisis.”

Last night tsiMORAY moved a step closer to the formation of the steering group by calling a second meeting for those interested in offering their services to the newly coordinated effort, with campaigners meeting at the Inkwell on Francis Place in Elgin next Tuesday.

Collection centres throughout Moray are already filling up with a list of items required by refugees in camps throughout Europe – and now Moray Council has helped with that effort by providing a central storage depot in Buckie.

“Volunteers are being sought to help sorting and boxing the items we have been collecting,” the spokeswoman said, adding: “We are also in need of volunteer drivers who have a clean licence, suitable insurance and who are willing to undergo a short test.”

Meanwhile the first refugees being accepted into the UK as part of the government’s promise to take 20,000 from camps in Lebanon have arrived in the country.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are working closely with the UNHCR and local authorities to make sure we are ready to welcome more Syrians who desperately need our assistance.

“A number of people have arrived in the UK as part of the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement (VPR) scheme. As the prime minister announced earlier this month, we will resettle 20,000 Syrians over the course of this parliament through the scheme.”

While there is no date yet known when any refugees would be arriving in Moray, local campaigners point out that fears of a “flood of refugees” were well wide of the mark: “The 20,000 being accepted by the UK Government over a five year period represents just six refugees in Moray each year, assuming that they are settled equally over all parliamentary constituencies,” the spokeswoman said.

She added: “While our efforts will be to help refugee families that do find their way to Moray it is perhaps of much greater importance that we assist in providing aid to those who could remain in refugee camps for many years to come.

“What is really pleasing is that at Monday’s meeting and since the response here is becoming much more focussed and many more people wishing to help in the effort are coming forward.”