THE FIRST Syrian refugee families have been successfully resettled in Rugby.
A private flight arrived at Birmingham International Airport this week carrying families who have since been resettled around the region, including two families in the town, and six more elsewhere in Warwickshire.
They are among those who have suffered the most following the humanitarian disaster in Syria since civil war erupted in 2011. Many have been displaced from their homes or had their livelihoods destroyed in the subsequent conflicts that have ravaged the country they once called home.
Two families have each been rehomed in Rugby, Stratford and Nuneaton.
Warwickshire County Council has been working with district and borough councils, health chiefs and others to put in place a package of support for the families – including private housing, education, health care and emotional support.
The project, wholly funded by central government as part of its Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement programme, is expected to see Warwickshire become home to at least 31 Syrian families by 2020 – 10 of them in Rugby.
Rugby Borough Council leader Coun Michael Stokes said: “We have worked to fulfil our commitment to support the Government’s humanitarian response to the events in Syria – which reflected concerns raised by many residents who urged us to support the scheme.
“I am pleased we have welcomed the first Syrian families to privately rented accommodation in Rugby.
“We have worked with our partners to ensure the families now receive all the necessary support to start a new, safe and secure life in Rugby.”
Revd Dr Michael Bochenski, chair of Rugby homelessness charity Hope 4, told The Observer he was glad Rugby was playing its part when the plans were first announced in May.
He said: “Helping 10 families seems a small response to such a huge humanitarian crisis.
“When I read of the hell most Syrian refugees are escaping from, one message cries out: treat others as you, or your family, would like to be treated.
“My father escaped to the UK from the hell of Poland during the Second World War. He fought with the RAF and then settled and built a family here.
“We will always be grateful that Britain was a place of safety and refuge for him, and countless others at that time.”
Coun Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “These families can now begin their healing in a county that has always celebrated and welcomed diversity; a county that has always offered help to its most vulnerable residents; and a county that has a deep and enduring sense of civil-mindedness at its very heart.”
Coun June Tandy, leader of the county’s Labour Group, added: “These families, now safe and sound in Warwickshire, have endured physical and emotional hardships that we would struggle to comprehend in Warwickshire. It is heartening to know they are now safe and being supported.”