First six refugee familes resettled
THE first six Syrian refugee familes being resettled in County Wexford have moved into their homes at various addresses in Wexford town and 11 more families are due to move to Enniscorthy over the next two weeks.
For the past few months, the refugees have been based in Dungarvan taking part in an assimilation and language programme to help them settle into what for most will be a culture and environment far removed from their own.
'There has been widespread public support for the Wexford resettlement programme with many organisation and individuals offering to befriend their new neighbours, to assist them in accessing community supports and services or simply to help them settle into their new lives here in Wexford,' said the Mayor Cllr Frank Staples.
The county council said it had been asked by the gardai not to identify any of the refugees or to say where they had or were being resettled.
The refugees are being accommodated in local authority houses by the council with funds provided by the Department of Justice and for which the mayor said rents will be paid by the refugee tenants, the same as every else.
Cllr Staples he had not yet met any of the refugees - around 40 adults and 40 children - to welcome them to Wexford, but hopes it won't be too long before he does.
Former Labour, now Independent Cllr Davy Hynes said he understood the council's reticence in keeping details of the resettlement under wraps.
'We are in the midst of a major housing crisis and there are concerns that there might be a backlash, although I have heard of nothing here and we do need to support and help these people,' he said.
The County Council is the lead agency for the resettlement of UNHCR Programme Refugees in County Wexford, where 17 families are being resettled as part of a larger group being settled throughout the State by invitation of the government under the UNHCR Resettlement Programme.
Cllr Staples said the resettlement of these families to Wexford is being steered and monitored by the County Wexford Interagency Resettlement working group.
It is the responsibility of the Group to ensure the smooth integration of these families into their new life here in Wexford.
The Group includes representatives from a number of statutory, community and voluntary agencies including Wexford County Council, HSE, An Garda Síochána, Túsla, the Department of Social Protection and Department of Justice & Equality.
The mayor said that having met on a number occasions over the past number of months the Group is satisfied that no stone has been left unturned in their efforts to ensure the families enjoy as smooth a transition as possible to a new life in the county.
Wexford County Council has appointed a Resettlement Worker and Cultural Awareness Worker who will act as points of contact and will oversee the local Resettlement Programme and help the families through the integration process.
The families have already undergone an initial language and orientation programme and this will be augmented with further training and orientation in the weeks and months ahead as they adapt to their new surroundings in Wexford. The Council said it had acquired the necessary accommodation in Wexford and Enniscorthy, while the other members of the County Wexford Interagency Group have ensured other vital services including access to education, health supports and language training is also being provided to the families. Any organisation or individual interested in supporting the Wexford Resettlement Programme and helping these families to settle into life in Wexford is invited to contact Wexford County Council's Refugee Re-settlement Worker Hannah Culkin, firstname.lastname@example.org