NORTH Ayrshire Council has passed an urgent motion to accommodate and support 50 to 100 refugees who are fleeing from conflict and entering Europe.

The decision was made at last week’s full council meeting where the urgent motion was placed and accepted unanimously by councillors from all parties.

Provost Joan Sturgeon asked the councillors if they were “happy to accept”, and there were no objections made in the chamber.

The motion read by Council Leader Willie Gibson said: “The magnitude of the present humanitarian crisis, the likes of which has not been seen since the Second World War impels this council to act.  “As the First Minister stated last week, ‘we have a duty – as well as a moral and humanitarian obligation – to face up to our responsibilities and accept a fair and proportionate share of refugees’.

“Violence, torture, rape, oppression, instability and persecution, can no longer be ignored. These evils have driven millions from their homes in Syria, Libya and Eritrea.  Councillor Gibson, who has been appointed to a Scottish refugee taskforce at COSLA to help develop strategy, added: “Four million Syrians alone have fled across the border to camps, while 6.5 million more in Syria are homeless. A third of a million have tried to cross the Mediterranean in boats and at least 2600 have died in that journey.

“There are over 348,000 asylum applications from Syrians in European countries.

“We commend the work of local organisations, individuals and members in supporting charities providing aid to victims of this crisis. Accordingly North Ayrshire Council agrees to support the work of the Scottish Government and opposition parties to urge the UK Government to accept more refugees into the United Kingdom.  “We commit to work with COSLA and Government to support refugees in coming to North Ayrshire.

“Depending on family sizes, over a period of time we can offer accommodation and other support to 50 to 100 refugees.

“Council agrees that a report is brought to Cabinet detailing the up to date position on Government proposals, and outlining the support which the council can provide to refugees.” The timescale for the arrival of the refugees was discussed and Willie Gibson explained that the intake would be phased over a period of time and was largely dependent on the position of the UK Government.

Councillor Joe Cullinane then raised the work of various groups in the region, including the ‘Ayrshire Support for Refugees’ group, that has collected various items to take down to refugees in Calais.

Councillor Cullinane asked Councillor Gibson if it was possible to help the groups in some capacity, as other councils across Scotland had assisted with groups who have the aim of helping refugees.

Councillor Gibson responded: “The work that these groups do is very important and if there are any specific issues which they would need assistance with, I’d be more than happy to hear them and see if we as a council could help.” On hearing the news that the council is to welcome 50-100 refugees, Yvonne McLellan, who is a founder of the Ayrshire Support for Refugees, was pleased with the decision and the praise the group received from the council.

She said: “The news of 50-100 refugees being welcomed to North Ayrshire brought in by the council’s motion is very good news indeed.

“It’s difficult to put a figure on how many people you should reach a helping hand out to but it is definitely a welcome start.

“Any help that the group can receive from the council adds to supporting the generosity members of the public have shown and is also very welcome.”