The Mid & East Antrim borough might not receive any Syrian refugees until late 2017, “if at all”, a Council committee has been told.
The news came in an update report to members of Council’s Community Planning Committee on the status of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Programme (VPR) on Tuesday night when members were assured that resettlement preparations continue to be made.
The report stated: “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have been informed that the next intake of refugees will be located in the Craigavon area and, following that, Belfast. Mid & East Antrim may not receive refugees until late 2017, if at all.”
The first group of refugees arrived in Northern Ireland in December with 51 people housed in the Belfast area. The second group arrived in April and were housed in the North West of the province.
Members of the Community Planning Committee were reminded that work so far by Mid & East Antrim Council included the facilitation of two meetings with local statutory agencies, voluntary and community groups and councillors to discuss the implications of the VPR Programme for the borough.
Committee members noted the update and on the proposal of Councillor Patrice Hardy, seconded by Alderman Geraldine Mulvenna, agreed to lead and facilitate a working group to develop a series of actions aimed at helping to support the integration of refugees arriving in the borough through the VPR programme in due course.
The report stated that as part of its Community Planning responsibilities “it is appropriate that Council provide leadership in this area and co-ordinate local community groups and organisations to develop their capacity to support refugees”.