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Special meeting called on Tuesday evening to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis

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A Notice of Motion was submitted by Councillor Stephanie Quigley (SDLP)

“We propose that this Council urgently responds to the current humanitarian
crisis in the Middle East by taking up the challenge set by Citizens UK and
the UNHRC in facilitating and supporting the resettlement of refugee families
within our own community.

We further propose council lobbies the Executive to convene an urgent
meeting in these exceptional circumstances in order to form a collective
response to the current refugee crisis.”

The following amendment was put forward by the Ulster Unionist Party

” We propose that this council responds to the current humanitarian crisis in the middle east by encouraging the citizens of this borough to donate to the international aid agencies and local charities involved with providing relief for the refugee crisis.”

Cllr Wilson said “I think it is fair to say that we all have been deeply moved by the harrowing scenes which we have witnessed on television and on social media over the last number of weeks , especially the image of little Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless body lying on a beach . These scenes are directly or indirectly related to and the result of a country literally being raised to the ground by a terrible war in Syria which has been raging for years now.

Many people have contacted me asking is there any way we can help at a local level?

I think we should approach this situation with sympathy and compassion, the United Kingdom Government must be commended in sending almost one billion pounds of aid to those in need in the war torn region, this is more aid than has been distributed by any other EU country or indeed by the wealthy Arab states which surround Syria.

However, I have also been contacted by a number of constituents who have many concerns about the masses of people who are seeking asylum /refuge in western Europe and the UK.

The same questions continually arise.

  • Are all of those travelling across Europe and indeed those who are currently residing in camps genuine refugees or indeed economic migrants?
  • Is there a risk of militant extremists / terrorists entering the UK and subsequently posing a threat to our National security?
  • It is my understanding that the UN select who will be sent to the UK from the camps giving priority to women, children and the infirm, I think more information would be useful to help ease concerns.
  • How will an influx of refugees impact upon the lives of the people of the UK , who already face a social housing shortage, an overstretched NHS, not to mention homelessness? In recent weeks we have been told that over 9000 ex servicemen are living on the streets!

These are questions which must be addressed with urgency to reassure members of the public, however these questions will not be answered here tonight , they could however be answered by the government in Westminster who are ultimately responsible for the UK’s immigration policy , not Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.”

The Amendment was carried by a majority of 19 – 14 with 1 abstention.

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