Northern Ireland

Syrian refugees: Eleven families set to arrive in NI, Robinson and McGuinness say

Syrian refugees walk on a railway track Image copyright AP
Image caption Syrian refugees due to arrive in Northern Ireland are "highly traumatised", Martin McGuinness said

Eleven refugee families - a total of 51 people - are set to arrive in Northern Ireland on 15 December, the first and deputy first ministers have said.

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness said the first group to be resettled will be based in Belfast, and a second group will go to Londonderry.

Half of the "highly traumatised" people due to arrive are under 16 years old, Mr McGuinness added.

The UK is due to accept 20,000 refugees from Syria over the next five years.

Speaking after a meeting of the British Irish Council in London, Mr McGuinness said: "I don't have any doubt whatsoever, if they choose to continue to live in the north of Ireland they will enrich our lives."

Wrong-headed

First Minister Peter Robinson said: "We want to see them assimilated into our society - we don't want them to be an isolated group."

He added that he and Mr McGuinness "deplore" those who were planning an anti-refugee rally in Belfast ahead of the arrival of the first group of refugees.

"That is not the people of Northern Ireland, that is not the way we behave," he said.

"When the public get some sight of the refugees that are coming to Northern Ireland, they will see how wrong-headed it would be to do anything other than provide support and comfort to these people."

"They are people who have gone through the most traumatic of times in the land of their birth."

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