Refugees from war-torn Syria to be settled in Craigavon Armagh and Lisburn areas

Ian Snowden
Ian Snowden

Refugees from war-torn Syria are to arrive in the Craigavon and Armagh areas next week.

A total of 13 families made up of 57 people will be arriving in Belfast initially next week before being rehoused in the Craigavon, Armagh and Lisburn areas.

One man was shot in the head and has eyesight problems. His brother was killed in the same incident

Ian Snowden

They will include 25 children, 17 of which are school age.

This is the third group of refugees from the devastated country - the others have been rehoused in Derry and Belfast and resettled under the UK Government’s Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme.

One nine year old girl will be arriving. She had been in a bomb blast which killed her grandparents and uncles. She survived however suffered serious injuries to her arms and legs which will require medical treatment.

Many of the Syrians who will be arriving have been through horrific years of torture in a country ravaged by war.

Some of the men have been kidnapped and tortured.

This third group of refugees will be arriving from Turkey and comprise mostly of Kurds and all are Muslim.

Ian Snowden of the Operational Planning Group said that the NI Housing Executive has been involved in getting private rentals for the families in the Craigavon, Armagh and Lisburn areas.

He added that while previous groups comprised mostly Syrians who had been involved in blue collar work, this third group also includes an accountant, primary school teacher, cooks, carpenters and other professions.

“They are very keen to work but we are going to ease them into society and spend several months teaching them English,” he added.

“They are vulnerable people for various reasons, some are injured due to the conflict. One man was shot in the head and has eyesight problems. His brother was killed in the same incident,” said Mr Snowden.

“Many are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and will need counselling and support,” he addded.

Neil McKittrick of the Red Cross said most of the families are from the Aleppo area of northern Syria where most of the war has been concentrated.

“You can see they have been through a traumatic experience,” he said. “It is important that they know the people are here to support them.”

Denise Wright, Coordinator of the Refugee and Asylum Forum said all of those Syrians arriving in the area have been through rigorous security checks.

She also explained that people who would like to help the Syrians can do so via Bryson Intercultural.

She added that people have been very kind to previous refugees and the Syrians have been overwhelmed by their kindness.

And she explained that there NI Assembly will not be bearing any cost of resettling the refugees.

She said the UK government will be spending £8,520 on each refugee none of which will go directly to the refugee but to the agencies who are helping them. A further £2,500 will be allocated towards health costs and there will be some money towards education and to help those with particularly special needs. And those who require medical assistance will be on the waiting list just as local people are.

“We found that the Syrians are very keen to work as soon as they arrive here. They have been living hand to mouth scraping a living to sustain their families,” she said.

Denise said many of the Syrians suffer from survivors guilt and constantly worry for the safety of their families at home.

A spokesperson for Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council said officers at the council are organising a welcome centre and have appealed for items to help the new Syrian families settle in.

She said that there is no point in 20 people turning up with a kettle but said they would be happy to take in gifts of shoe racks, rugs, telephone convertors or even vouchers for the families many of whom are arriving without even a suitcase of clothes.

Local people are asked not to call at a family home without advance notice or take pictures of the families, particularly children, identifying them via any medium including social media without consent.

For more information on how to help to welcome the Syrian refugees, contact Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council on 0300 0300 900 or check out the Bryson Intercultural website