Refugee crisis: Sunderland council preparing to help those fleeing Syria

Refugees and migrants wait to pass the borders from the northern Greek village of Idomeni, to southern Macedonia, today.The country has borne the brunt of a massive refugee and migration flow of people heading into the European Union.
Refugees and migrants wait to pass the borders from the northern Greek village of Idomeni, to southern Macedonia, today.The country has borne the brunt of a massive refugee and migration flow of people heading into the European Union.
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Community leaders in Sunderland say they are preparing to offer support to refugees fleeing their war-torn homes.

The city council has made contact with officials at the Local Government Association about what help it can offer Syrians following the outbreak of civil war.

Councillor Graeme Miller.

Councillor Graeme Miller.

David Cameron is expected to announce plans after changing his opposition to taking more people seeking help, with Britain’s foreign aid budget to be diverted to councils.

Councillor Graeme Miller, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for health, housing and adult services, said: “There is no doubt in my mind that we are witnessing a humanitarian crisis.

“My first reaction, as a human being, was for the City Council to offer whatever help it could and this is what we have done.

“The council is in contact with the Local Government Association about establishing support arrangements with the Home Office and awaiting further information.

I expect other organisations or city partners, such as those that work with the homeless, are also preparing to volunteer and offer their services.

Councillor Graeme Miller

“I expect other organisations or city partners, such as those that work with the homeless, are also preparing to volunteer and offer their services.”

City of Sunderland Sanctuary is among the organisations which work with refugees in the region.

While there are a few families, most are single men due to the accommodation allocated in the area.

They include a small number of Syrians, Eritreans, a Libyan, and Iraqi doctor, with many university graduates.

Retired nurse Kathy Haq, 65, from Barnes, is the group’s secretary and said: “I speak to these lads and all they want to do is see their homes again.

“We will be doing a leaflet dispelling the claims they are coming here for benefits.”