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895 Syrian refugees resettled in region over two years

Ziad Swed and his three daughters are refugees living in Gateshead. Photo: ITV News Tyne Tees

895 Syrian refugees have been resettled by councils in the North East and North Yorkshire, according to new figures obtained by ITV News Tyne Tees.

They cover two years since the government pledged to take 20,000 refugees across the UK by 2020, and called for a "national effort" in response to the humanitarian crisis.

8,319
Syrian refugees resettled in the UK so far
895
Syrian refugees resettled in the North East and North Yorkshire so far

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Our Freedom of Information requests revealed significant variations between the contribution of our region's local authorities since September 2015.

The highest numbers of refugees have arrived in Newcastle and Gateshead.

Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Sunderland and South Tyneside have not accepted any Syrian refugees under the scheme.

The Bishop of Durham, who has been a leading voice campaigning for a compassionate response, said the figures show the region has acted strongly, but called for councils to play a full part over the next three years.

Ziad and his three daughters fled from Raqqa just over a year ago. They have been given a place to live in Gateshead, he receives benefits and the girls - Amna, 13, Basmala, 9 and Rinad, 5 - all have school places here.

They are among millions displaced since the Syrian civil war began in 2011.

The Home Office told us it is "on track to deliver the commitment" to resettle 20,000 refugees in the UK by 2020. Between 7 September 2015 and 30 June 2017, 8,319 were accepted.

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, has led the Church of England's response to the Syrian refugee crisis - and co-chaired the National Refugee Welcome Board.

"I think that the North East can hold its head up, it has done really well in terms of responding positively, welcoming families on the Syrian refugee resettlement scheme. Inevitably some have chosen to take more than others. What I think is really good is the number who have committed to taking them right the way through the whole five years of the programme - and I would really hope that would be true of every local authority."

– The Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham

Individual councils do not have to fund the hosting of refugees - all costs are met by a government grant.

In figures given to us, the local authorities in the North East and North Yorkshire say they plan to have accepted around 2,500 refugees from Syria by the end of the resettlement scheme in 2020.

There have though been calls for the government's pledge to take 20,000 refugees to be increased.

"I think we will be pushing probably to increase our target in the longer-term. But we have to show we are up to the challenge and host the 20,000 in time, and then we'll prepare for the next batch if the war is still raging."

– Dr Mohammed Nasreldin - Director of the North of England Refugee Service
Thousands of Syrians live in refugee camps, like this one in Adana, Turkey. Credit: PA

The region's local authorities provided the following information in response to our Freedom of Information requests:

Darlington

  • 45 refugees in 11 families resettled between September 2015 and August 2017

"Originally Darlington Borough Council pledged to resettle 10 families, however a family reunification case was received and agreed, therefore we have 11 families. Darlington Borough Council have met the pledges and will receive no further families."

Durham

  • 92 refugees in 19 families resettled between September 2015 and August 2017

"We are expecting to resettle approximately 110 more individuals in family groups in County Durham up to 2020. The precise numbers and timings are still to be finalised."

Gateshead

  • 208 refugees in 42 families resettled between September 2015 and August 2017

"Gateshead has made a commitment to resettle 110 individuals per year from 2015 - 2020."

Hartlepool

  • 77 refugees in 15 families resettled between September 2015 and August 2017

"Our local authority has agreed to settle 10 families per year for the remainder of the scheme."

Middlesbrough

  • 0 refugees resettled between September 2015 and August 2017

"It is no secret that Middlesbrough has for some considerable time far exceeded its fair allocation of those seeking asylum, and that has been acknowledged by Government. “So while we are working to bring the number of people seeking asylum in the town to within those proscribed by Government guidelines, we are not currently in a position to welcome additional refugees. “We play a leading role in the North East Migration Partnership which aims to address distribution issues across the region and support local asylum seeker and refugee networks and will continue to do so.”

Newcastle

  • 164 refugees in 37 families resettled between September 2015 and August 2017

"We have pledged to resettle 20 families per year for the remainder of the scheme. Families will arrive at regular intervals throughout this period."

North Tyneside

  • 43 refugees in 10 families resettled between September 2015 and August 2017

"I can confirm that the number of refugees settled in North Tyneside was appropriate to the level of resources available in the Borough."

Northumberland

  • 45 refugees in 10 families resettled between September 2015 and August 2017

"Northumberland County Council has agreed to take 60 families in total between 2016 and 2012 (approximately 240 individuals). This represents 12 families a year over a 5 year period. There are therefore a further 50 families scheduled to arrive."

North Yorkshire

  • 163 refugees in 33 families resettled between September 2015 and August 2017

"Approximately 44 individuals [will arrive] between January 2018 and June 2018."

Redcar & Cleveland

  • 58 refugees in 14 households resettled between September 2015 and August 2017

"It is our intention to resettle 125 households over the five years of the national programme. This pledge is under review."

South Tyneside

  • 0 refugees resettled between September 2015 and August 2017

"We have not currently accepted any Syrian refugees under the scheme. During the Summer we held discussions with local stakeholders to assess the capacity of local services including health, housing, social care, education and the third sector. We are continuing to work closely with the Home Office to develop an approach that ensures any families located to South Tyneside are well supported.”

Stockton-on-Tees

  • 0 refugees resettled between September 2015 and August 2017

“We have a long history of welcoming and supporting asylum seekers and refugees fleeing their own countries and it’s great to see other councils starting to do the same. “We are part of the Tees Valley ‘City of Sanctuary’ and along with Middlesbrough Borough Council, we were instrumental in re-establishing the North East Strategic Migration Partnership, which is now overseeing the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. “As we already support a significant number of asylum seekers and refugees there are no current plans to relocate Syrian refugees to Stockton-on-Tees under this scheme, but we remain fully supportive of, and involved in, the work of the partnership.”

Sunderland

  • 0 refugees resettled between September 2015 and August 2017

"The City Council is a full member of the Regional Migration Partnership. It regularly meets with the Home Office and neighbouring authorities about responses to the Syrian refugee crisis. Following the announcement by David Cameron in October 2015 to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees, it was agreed that with the improvements being made to Children’s Services it would not be appropriate to add more pressure to local services. This decision was taken in consultation with the Home Office and the Government appointed Children’s Commissioner. The Syrian resettlement programme is a five year scheme and the position is being kept under review."