The first families to be resettled from Syria to the Western Isles are expected to arrive this spring. 

Two families will arrive initially, with a further 'three or four' to follow, the Comhairle stated today.

The Western Isles Syrian Family Refugee Resettlement Working Group has been working over recent months, with good engagement from all partners, in preparation for the arrival of Syrian families in the islands.

During 2015, sixteen Scottish Local Authority areas have resettled approximately 400 refugees. During early 2016 a further nine authority areas (including the Outer Hebrides) plan to accept refugee families from Syria.

The Local Authority Area is registered with the Home Office in preparation for receiving refugee families, and the group is now awaiting the identification of houses which can be offered to the families. The Comhairle’s Head of Development Services and HHP have been working to identify suitable accommodation. Once accommodation has been identified this information will be submitted to the Home Office to enable matching of refugee families.

Cllr Angus Campbell, Chair of the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership, said: “Preparatory work has been ongoing and over the last six weeks discussions have taken place with other similar CPPs who have resettled refugees so that the partnership can learn from their experience and understand some of the challenges, but also benefits that resettling refugees will bring.

"A Refugee Resettlement Health Group has been established by NHS Western Isles and a weblink (http://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/cxdir/externalstrategy/communityplanning/helprefugees.asp) has been set up in partnership with the Volunteer Centre Western Isles so that people can volunteer to help. One of the main areas of consideration for the working group is the need to consider the use of interpreters.

"Feedback from other areas indicates that this is a service which is extremely important to aid resettlement and integration into the community, but also to ensure that families have access to all the appropriate services they will need.

"We are pleased that the Outer Hebrides is playing its part in the resettlement of Syrian families in Scotland.”