It is expected that Derry will officially receive a group of Syrian refugees by early 2016, according to Ian Snowden from the Department for Social Development (DSD).
Mr. Snowden made the announcement at the ‘From Syria to Sanctuary’ conference in the Foyle Arena in Derry on Friday.
The Syrian refugees that will come to Derry are but a small number of the 20,000 due to re-settle in the UK over the next five years.
The North of Ireland is expected to welcome its first group of Syrian refugees shortly before Christmas. This group of people will be re-settled in Belfast.
Mr. Snowden said all Syrian refugees due to be re-settled in the North (including Derry) will be from camps managed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) located on the Syrian border area.
“We are doing all that we can to make sure that we are prepared,” said Mr. Snowden. “We must take into consideration that many of the people coming here will never have heard of Northern Ireland, they will never have seen our money and they might not be able speak any English.
“We expect to welcome the first group of people here before Christmas. We will re-settle these refugees in Belfast and then we expect Derry to receive a group in early 2016.”
The ‘From Syria to Sanctuary’ conference was organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council.