First flight of Syrian refugees arrives in Britain

AFP , Tuesday 17 Nov 2015

A first charter flight carrying dozens of Syrian refugees landed at Glasgow Airport on Tuesday as part of British government plans to bring in 20,000 asylum-seekers over the next five years.

The plane from Beirut, carrying around 100 people according to British media, is the first of several flights in the coming weeks expected to transport 1,000 of the new arrivals by Christmas.

"This is a proud day for Scotland," the Scottish government's minister for Europe and international development Humza Yousaf said in a statement.

"I would like to extend the warmest of welcomes on behalf of the people of Scotland to the Syrian refugees who have arrived in Glasgow today, and wish them all the best as they are supported to start their new lives here," he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron has resisted calls for Britain to take in more refugees and has said it will only take in people from UN refugee camps, warning that accepting arrivals in Europe would encourage more people to make dangerous journeys.

Home Secretary Theresa May said earlier that the refugees have undergone "rigorous" checks, following reports that one of the men who carried out Friday's attacks in Paris travelled along a migrant route.

"There are two levels of screening that take place" by the UN and the Home Office, including "biometrics", May told parliament on Monday.

New arrivals will be given a five-year visa allowing them to remain in Britain, after which they can apply for leave to remain longer.

"To the first refugees fleeing war-torn Syria who will arrive at Glasgow Airport today, we'd just like to say: 'Welcome to Scotland'," read a front-page headline on Scotland's The National daily.

During a visit to Glasgow Central Mosque on Monday, Scotland's Frist Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned against prejudice.

"I urge people not to let these terrorists win by dividing us and driving a wedge between the multi-cultural society Scotland is home to," she was quoted in an official statement as saying.

"We are due to welcome Syrian refugees to Scotland tomorrow and we need to show that we are a country of compassion and acceptance," she said.

"These people are fleeing their homes in the search for protection and security, and we are their refuge. We cannot let the actions of the few destroy the safety of the many."

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