Vulnerable Syrian refugees set to arrive in North

Vulnerable Syrian refugees set to arrive in North

Refugees burned by explosions are among 57 Syrians arriving in the North on Thursday.

Others are disabled or in a wheelchair. Some could die if left to languish in Turkish camps near the border with their war-torn homeland, officials said.

They include 20 children.

Some were plumbers or bakers in their native home - forced by conflict to flee to new houses in Derry with barely a word of English.

Denise Wright, a coordinator for the Refugee and Asylum Forum, said: "Most in the camps don't want to go to Europe. They want to go back to their homes again.

"This is a last resort for many. They are deciding they may never see other members of their family again.

"If they stay in camps they may not make it."

This is the second group accepted in the North as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme to resettle around 20,000 by 2020.

The last intake was accepted from a camp near Beirut in Lebanon on December 15, before the snows of winter in Belfast.

One said: "When it snows in camps, children start to die."

A lot of the men had been abducted for ransom by combatants and beaten while being held; one victim did not know who kidnapped him.

The most needy have been targeted for the resettlement programme, women and children, torture victims, those with significant medical needs.

Thursday's new arrivals are a mixture of Arabs, Kurds and Circassians, all Muslim.

The youngest is two and the oldest aged mid-50s. Several have university-level education.

They include 14 family groups and 20 children, three quarters school-aged.

All bar one family will be housed by the Housing Executive in Derry - one will go to the Greater Belfast area because a wheelchair user needs accessible accommodation.

On Thursday, they will be taken to a welcome centre in Belfast where they will be given legal advice and registered with the social security system.

They will spend five days there in an effort to introduce them to an alien environment gradually.

All families will be permitted to remain in the North for five years with the opportunity of attaining citizenship. They have passed all Home Office screening tests for criminality.

The Home Office has provided at least £11,120 per refugee to cover the first year's cost.

Members of the group are not allowed to stray across the border into the Republic. They will be eligible to claim benefits but will have to make the same efforts to find work as everybody else.

None in the last intake have yet found work. The intention is to match them with jobs fitting their skill levels rather than simply taking low paid service industry posts.

They can apply for dependent family members to join them in the North but have not yet done so.

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