Stratford district ready to help Syrian refugee crisis - The Stratford Observer

Stratford district ready to help Syrian refugee crisis

Stratford Editorial 11th Sep, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016   0

STRATFORD District Council says it is ready to play its part in helping Syrian refugees.

Thousands of people have been desperately trying to escape war and persecution in the Middle Eastern country, which has become a stronghold of Islamic State, with their plight being the focus of news reports across the world.

And council chiefs pledged to support the cause this week following a flood of calls from residents asking how they could help.

Council leader Chris Saint said: “Stratford district is ready to play its part in any nationally agreed and co-ordinated approach to refugees.

“Residents are keen to do all they can and we will do our best to help co-ordinate this along with other partners so we can understand what is needed to deliver an effective response.”

Council chiefs have agreed to create a collection centre for donations of everything from clothing to toiletries, and said they would work with others doing the same.

The authority has also promised to use its resources to support government initiatives while an information sheet telling residents what they can do to help is set to be produced.

It comes after Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to resettle more than 20,000 refugees in the UK between now and 2020.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper had previously called on local authorities to take in refugee families.

In Warwickshire this would mean the county and district councils working together as the county has overall responsibility for issues such as education and health while the district is responsible for housing.

The authority is not yet in a position to say if, or how many, families it would take, but council chiefs have discussed how vacant holiday lets could be used and they have also agreed to help residents who feel they could potentially house refugees.

Neighbouring Warwick District Council says it is waiting on central government guidance, but MP Chris White has called on the authority to take heed from Stratford’s response.

The Warwick and Leamington MP told The Observer: “Our country has a moral obligation to assist those in need and I hope Warwick district will follow Stratford’s lead by working with charities and religious groups to see what can be done.”

Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi added: “It is absolutely right to give the most vulnerable women, children and orphans asylum in our country.

“By taking refugees straight from camps we send a message there is no need to cross the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean – a journey which has seen such tragic loss of life.”

Other countries have pledged to take in refugees as Europe continues to struggles with the migrant crisis.

French president Francois Hollande promised to welcome some 24,000 refugees, while German chancellor Angela Merkel said there was no legal limit to the number her country would take – with 18,000 arriving over the weekend alone.

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