Lack of government support means we can’t rehome Syrian refugees, says Haringey Council leader

Protest against Haringey not accepting Syrian refugees outside the civic centre. Photo: Nigel Sutton

Protest against Haringey not accepting Syrian refugees outside the civic centre. Photo: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

No Syrian refugees can be re-settled in Haringey because of a lack of government support, a council leader has said.

Although neighbouring Camden has resettled eight families fleeing war zones, and is committed to resettling 20, the leader at Haringey Council is unable to find a home for any at the moment.

Barnet has taken in 17 Syrian refugees, while remaining committed to settling 50.

The announcement has sparked anger and campaigners staged a protest outside the council offices on Monday, ahead of a full council meeting.

Cllr Claire Kober said the council would like to rehouse more than 50 refugee families – but said more support is needed from the government.

At the meeting, Rose Bernstein, a campaigner with Refugees Welcome Haringey, introduced herself as the “granddaughter of a refugee and the daughter of a migrant”.

She said: “We’ve all seen the photos and the news stories about Syria... We know there are four million people displaced by the war and 494,000 desperate refugees in UN camps. The government has offered to take 20,000 refugees through a scheme called the vulnerable person resettlement scheme – but this isn’t happening, because it is dependent on councils like Haringey stepping forward.

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“Haringey is a borough made up of people from all over the world, and they want to help.

“Last year 1,290 residents signed a petition asking Haringey to accept refugees and since then we have been speaking to community organisations, faith groups – mosques, synagogues and churches – and found there is the desire to take in Syrian refugees.

“We know there are worries about housing, but Syrian refugees who are part of this scheme will not be placed in social housing – they will go into private accommodation. We’ve been talking to private landlords and estate agents across the borough and again there is willing...

“Haringey has the capacity to resettle Syrian refugees – and the council agrees on this – but we’ve been hearing this phrase, ‘Haringey has capacity’ since September last year, and as yet no refugees have been accepted.”

But council leader Claire Kober said the council has a long record of supporting refugees.

She replied: “At the current time, the government’s reticence to put in place the support, not just in terms of housing costs but in terms of the wrap around support that vulnerable [people], particularly women and children require, is really causing a stick. She added: “I really have to say that and be responsible. We have 3,000 families in this borough in temporary accommodation. Housing in London is in crisis and what we can’t do is look at this in isolation.”