Refugees “will be welcome in Rotherham”

THE head of a group co-ordinating help for refugees believes Rotherham will welcome families arriving in the borough as part of a Europe-wide crisis.

Seven out of ten people taking part in an Advertiser poll opposed Rotherham Borough Council’s commitment to house refugees from Syria.

But Jim Steinke, chairman of the Rotherham Refugee Multi Agency Forum, said: “I am sure that when it comes to it, Rotherham people will provide as big a welcome to Syrian refugees as will be happening elsewhere in the country.

“Rotherham has provided a safe refuge for people fleeing war and persecution for different groups of people over the years and this will be another challenge that community groups, faith groups and individuals will rise to.

“During the Balkans wars, 15 years ago, lots of Kosovans came to Yorkshire, and they particularly said that Rotherham had been the friendliest place they had come to in the UK. I am sure that we can demonstrate that again!”

Over half of Syria’s population of 23 million people have been affected by the country’s past 4 years of civil war and are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.  

More than four million people have fled the country and are being housed in neighbouring countries, many in sub-poverty level conditions, including more than two million children.  

More than 7.6 million people have been internally displaced due to the fighting and over 220,000 people have been killed.

Mr Steinke added: “This is a humanitarian crisis on a massive scale which requires a global response.  

“The UK has agreed to take an average of 4,000 of the most vulnerable refugees from Syria per year for the next five years.

“That works out as about ten people per county or city council per year.

“We have the facilities to be able to welcome that number of men, women and children, and we anticipate many of the refugees will be families with children or children who have been orphaned by war and David Cameron has stated that he will prioritise the needs of child refugees.”