The Head of the Civil Service has praised the humanitarian effort which today saw the 1,000th refugee arrive in Northern Ireland as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.
David Sterling said that the combined efforts from the public, community and voluntary sectors had provided sanctuary, support and the chance of a new life in Northern Ireland for families fleeing the war torn region.
Earlier this morning a further 78 refugees arrived in Northern Ireland through the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, bringing the total to 1,010.
David Sterling said: “It is fitting that during Refugee Week, we welcomed the 1,000th Syrian refugee to Northern Ireland.
“Over the last three years, organisations and people across Northern Ireland have played our part in this humanitarian effort and I am proud of everything we have achieved together to welcome these families into our society and offer them a new future.
“Today we are recognising the considerable effort which has helped to ensure the transition has been as smooth as possible.”
Many Departments across the Northern Ireland Civil Service have worked together to deliver the Syrian Vulnerable Person Relocation Scheme.
Mark Browne from The Executive Office said: “The arrangements demonstrate excellent partnership working across government. People in Northern Ireland can be proud that we have offered a safe haven for families who have suffered as a result of the Syrian conflict to rebuild their lives.”
Ian Snowden who leads the operational delivery of the programme in the Department for Communities added: “It has been a challenging experience but is one of the most rewarding projects I have worked on.
“As a father of two boys, every time I see the mums and dads and their children arrive at the airport I am struck by how frightening it would be to move your entire family to a new country and start again. Despite the challenges they face, the refugee families who have arrived in Northern Ireland have embraced life here.
“Some have gone on to study at University for the careers they wished to pursue but couldn't in Syria or the surrounding camps. Children are thriving in schools. We have had sporting success and many examples of how the Syrian culture is enriching the communities in which the families live.
Northern Ireland is providing the families with a bright future and I want to thank everyone who has and will continue to play their part in this scheme.”
Notes to editors:
- The Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme is a UK wide scheme led by the Home Office. The scheme supports and resettles those most vulnerable, including victims of violence, women and children at risk and those in need of advanced medical care.
- Northern Ireland committed to receiving groups of refugees on a phased basis. The first group of refugees to arrive in NI under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme arrived on 15 December 2015. To date, 15 groups have been welcomed to Northern Ireland bringing the total number to arrive as part of the scheme to 1010.
- More information on the background and operation of the Vulnerable Person Relocation Scheme can be found in the Department for Communities briefing document.
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