How governments and local authorities respond to the needs of refugees can make all the difference.

Peter Williams/WCC

Doris Peschke, General Secretary of the Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe.  Photo: Peter Williams / WCC

At a global level the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) helps to co-ordinate work between countries and delivers support on the ground. The UN Refugee Convention is a global treaty which commits nations to offer sanctuary to refugees if they experience or are threatened with persecution.

Within some members of the European Union there are attempts for countries to work more closely together to respond to the recent increase in numbers of refugees arriving in the EU. However, different member states are reacting differently to the situation and it is not clear how EU policy in this area will develop. The Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe is one of many volutnary sector organisations which advocate for a more humanitarian and compassionate approach to EU policy making.

In the UK asylum and immigration policy is the responsibility of the UK Government – rules and processes about how asylum seekers’ claim are handeled and the support they are offered is decided by the Home Office. The Scottish Government does not have any role in this.

Some people seeking asylum in the UK are housed in Glasgow while their claim is assessed. A small number of Syrian refugees are also being resettled in different places across Scotland. The Scottish Government and Scottish local authorities do have responsibsility for a number of aspects of accomdation and integration policy, such as housing, education and health. This is currently managed through the New Scots Integration Strategy.