Petition started in Ilkeston to help Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees pass through the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. U.N. chemical weapons experts have left Syria and crossed into neighboring Lebanon. The team on Friday carried out a fourth and final day of inspection as they sought to determine precisely what happened in the Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus. The team took samples from victims for examination in laboratories in Europe. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Syrian refugees pass through the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. U.N. chemical weapons experts have left Syria and crossed into neighboring Lebanon. The team on Friday carried out a fourth and final day of inspection as they sought to determine precisely what happened in the Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus. The team took samples from victims for examination in laboratories in Europe. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
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People fleeing Syria could be given refuge in Derbyshire after council leaders extended an offer to UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

County Council Leader Anne Western says the county would again be willing to act as a reception centre for refugees as it did during the Kosovan crisis in 1999.

Then, Kosovan refugees were housed at Stretton House, a former residential special school near Clay Cross.

Councillor Western said: “What is happening across the globe is absolutely tragic. Death and suffering on this scale should not be happening and it couldn’t be clearer that more needs to be done to help.

“We opened a reception centre when the Kosovan people were in dire need in the late 1990s and we’d be willing to do the same now.”

A web poll conducted by the Ilkeston Advertiser indicated that 68 per cent of those who responded did not want any refugees to come to the county, while only 28 per cent did.

And on Facebook the issue provoked a lot of debate.

Daniel Hatton wrote: “Our country needs to think about our own people before they come over wanting a better life! People in our country are worse off!”

Craig Lamont wrote: “Try having a look as to why they are fleeing their country and then tell me that if you were in the same situation, that you’d quite happily stay there.”

Some residents even went so far as to create petitions calling for refugees to be welcomed in Ilkeston. Jacqui Storey set up ‘Welcome refugees in Ilkeston’ on the 38degrees site which has so far attracted 43 signatures.

After David Cameron announced in Parliament on Monday that the UK will take 20,000 refugees from Syria over the next five years, Coun Western said: “We are still awaiting more detailed information and news about Government funding but based on the information we have at the moment the number of refugees coming to Derbyshire over five years is likely to be around 200 people.

“We need to be ready to act fast because more people are dying or risking their lives every day.”

Council officers are now assessing what accommodation could be readied at short notice to accommodate refugees if they were to come to Derbyshire. Coun Western also appealed for any residents, community groups or businesses in Derbyshire who would like to offer help to the refugees to email crisis.support@derbyshire.gov.uk.