Abd and his family on the Isle of Bute. Photo: www.thesun.co.uk

UK papers stirred up controversy with a story on a Syrian family settles on a remot Scottish island.

Sahil Nathani   02 August 2016 15:08

Brilio.net - Eight months ago, around fifteen Syrian families were sent to the Isle of Bute in Scotland, starting a new life away from the crisis in their homeland.

This is part of the United Kingdom Home Office’s Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme, which ‘aims to house 20,000 people in the UK by 2020 and prioritizes the most vulnerable.’ Under the terms and conditions of this scheme, refugees are granted a five-year ‘Humanitarian Protection status, permission to work and access to public funds, with their costs met for a year by the overseas aid budget.’

The Isle of Bute sits in the Firth of Clyde in far northwest Scotland. It is a beautiful but remote part of the country, home to just 7,000 people. It’s found its way into the UK headlines after some Syrian refugees placed there voiced their disappointment.

Abd is a 42-year old Father of four who was incarcerated and tortured in Syria. He arrived in Bute with his family but told The Daily Mail is struggling to cope with the new life.

“At first, of course, I was really happy to come to the UK. It is the other of freedom. People treated me really well, really nice. Scotland is beautiful.  I love the weather. There are some people who like this weather and I like it. I like the winter. But for six, seven months now there has been nowhere to go. There is no movement, there is nothing. I’m not bored any more. I am depressed now.”  

Abd travelled to Glasgow a in search of work opportunities, but to no avail. He then said that “whenever we say anything about moving off the island, we are told ‘we had to pay a lot of money to bring you here.’ This makes him feel like a dishonored, controlled, and an “obligatory” resident.

Another woman by the name of Rasha highlighted the plight by saying that the island is “full of old people” and that the island is “where people come to die.”

Spun out of proportion?

Despite their frustrations, a Bute council chief said: “These are not the views of the majority of our families, who are settling in well and making the most of all the opportunities of support and welcome available. Volunteers and a range of agencies are working extremely hard together and putting a whole range of support in place for every single one of our families.”

Lisa O’Donell, a writer in Glasgow who was born on the island of Bute, accused The Daily Mail of manipulating Abd’s poor English skills as she shared a photo of the article on Facebook, which had the headline “We want to leave, plead refugees on Scots island.

She criticised the reporter and urged people on the island to do their part to help them adjust to the new life, away from the trauma that they faced back home.

Her post attracted many comments from Syrian refugees on the island, expressing their happiness with life on Bute and the people there.

via Facebook/Lisa O'Donnell

Below are some of the comments posted by the Syrian refugees on the Isle of Bute, in response to Lisa’s Facebook post.

via Facebook/Lisa O'Donnell

via Facebook/Lisa O'Donnell

At least the cold hasn’t got them too down!




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