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First Syrian refugees arrive in Camden

PUBLISHED: 10:00 24 December 2015 | UPDATED: 10:51 24 December 2015

Refugees paddling a rubber dinghy close to the beach near Kos. Photo: PA

Refugees paddling a rubber dinghy close to the beach near Kos. Photo: PA

PA/Press Association Images

The first wave of refugees fleeing the war in Syria arrived in Camden last week after borough chiefs pledged to welcome them.

Raphael Gregorian, Mounir Haddad, Emmanuel Etuh, Nazgol Kafai and Ramie Farag created Camden Cares with the aim of helping Syrian refugees in CamdenRaphael Gregorian, Mounir Haddad, Emmanuel Etuh, Nazgol Kafai and Ramie Farag created Camden Cares with the aim of helping Syrian refugees in Camden

The four families have been allocated homes, and community groups have vowed to give them a warm welcome.

They will be soon be joined by more people from the war-torn country, following Camden’s promise to host 20 Syrian refugees.

The refugees, from the UK’s Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme, are arriving from over-spilling camps in countries such as Lebanon and Jordan.

Survivors of torture, the disabled and those at risk because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, have been given special priority by the UK government.

Camden’s refugees are part of the first batch of Syrians to arrive in the UK, after the government promised to house 1,000 people fleeing the war-torn country before Christmas.

Barnet has pledged to host 50 refugees but Haringey Council has yet to commit to a number.

They will be housed in private accommodation arranged for them by the council and helped to claim benefits, in the longer term learning English and finding work.

Community leaders are stepping up to welcome refugees - with a student group arranging cultural and sporting events for the Syrians.

The five Camden students, from Armenian, Egyptian, Iranian, Lebanese and Nigerian backgrounds, are on the Parliamentors scheme, a university leadership programme backed by Kentish Town charity Three Faiths Forum.

They have set up a project called Camden Cares, with the backing of Labour Keir Starmer, MP for Holborn and St Pancras, and they plan to take the Syrian refugees on a trip to London Zoo early in the New Year.

“All five of us have been affected by migration, and it’s a process of trying to accustom yourself to a different culture,” said Raphael Gregorian, 21, a student at the School of African and American Studies.

Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders have called on the government to allow more Syrian refugees to enter the UK and to back private sponsorship schemes.

In a video launched to coincide with Chanukah, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner and members of North Western Reform Synagogue in Alyth Gardens, are asking individuals to take on the cost of resettling refugees in the UK.

The Ham&High asked Camden Council to pass our details to the new arrivals from Syria, in the hope they would want to speak about their experience, and the importance of welcoming their fellow refugees.

Camden Council flatly refused, however, claiming it was “inappropriate”.

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