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Syrian family settling well in Cardigan

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A LOCAL charity, Croeso Teifi, welcomed one Syrian family to Cardigan in November last year and it seems they are settling in well.

The family met them at the airport along with two other community groups meeting a family each. The families shed tears of relief.

It was quickly found out that the Syrian family spoke no English. This did not inhibit communication or joy. The two children danced when they stopped in a cafe on the way home.

The parents started learning English straight away and are improving fast. This term the young children started full time school and are learning Welsh. The parents are also volunteering every week.

Croeso Teifi works with the Home Office and local authority on settling a small number of Syrian refugee families in or near Cardigan – wherever there is a welcome.

The team are aware of the importance of not competing with local needs for jobs, and minimising use of scarce public services.

The family were chosen by the United Nations organisation working with the Home Office with guidance from the Local Authority. Croeso Teifi let the Home Office know the skills that this area is short of before the selection.

The family say they love Wales, love Cardigan and love their home. The children go to school with a smile and come back practicing their Welsh. Their father is looking forward to getting into full time work, and both parents are doing a lot of homework to learn English quickly. They want to learn Welsh after learning English.

Croeso Teifi feel that the first family have been a success so far, They welcome new people to work to befriend and integrate a second family.

Community sponsored settlement is different to government supported settlement. The community provide all the money and gifts to ensure a successful integration. We find and equip a home, provide translation and English lessons, friendship and work and training and opportunities.

The generosity of people in and around Cardigan has been breath-taking. The hard working team of Croeso Teifi volunteers are regularly moved and surprised at the generous spirit of the town. We do our best to ensure that the area benefits as well as us benefitting the refugee family.

Wales is actually leading the UK in community sponsorship. Aberystwyth has its own community scheme with a first family due, and there are several families already in Pembrokeshire. The scheme was inspired by Canada where community sponsorship has been running for over 40 years. It enables refugee newcomers to belong to a local community from the word go, to quickly adapt and contribute their energy and skills.

The team look forward to the next phase of this journey of discovery.

However, a new report published by a coalition of organisations working to support refugees and asylum seekers in Wales shows that families separated from close relatives are experiencing significant trauma and long-lasting harm to their well-being.

At a time when 65 million people worldwide – half of them children – have been forced from their homes because of conflict, violence and persecution, the report also finds that barriers to reuniting family members can seriously impact on their ability to integrate into new communities and rebuild their lives in Wales.

Rihana, a woman from Syria, whose extended family are separated with different family members in Damascus and Lebanon, said: “Being apart from loved ones has brought about a lot of anxiety and distress. We are mentally affected as we always think of our extended family and the difficulties they must face.”

Published by the British Red Cross, Welsh Refugee Council, Displaced People in Action and Asylum Justice, the report calls on politicians in Wales to offer more support for refugees seeking to reunite with family members.

It also recommends that Welsh MPs support a Private Members Bill for Refugee Families that has its second reading in Parliament on Friday, March 16.

That Bill calls for changes to UK immigration rules that would expand the criteria for who qualifies as a “family member” for the purposes of refugee family reunion to include: young relatives, adult sons and daughters, adult siblings, parents, any dependent relatives and any person granted refugee leave.

It also calls for family members of children to be brought to the UK under the refugee reunion policy and for the reintroduction of legal aid for refugee family reunion cases.

The report also calls on the Welsh Government to offer additional support to refugees in Wales by looking at ways to mitigate the adverse impacts of UK policy in Wales by enabling refugees to access the free accredited legal advice required for complex family reunion cases and supporting Welsh local authorities and local health boards to implement protocols for successful family reunion applications.

Red Cross refugee services operations manager for Wales Ruth Gwilym Rasool said: “For many of us, family is the most important thing in our lives and refugees, just like the rest us in Wales, desperately want to remain close to their loved ones.

“Worldwide, we see conflict, violence and persecution driving families apart, with close relatives often separated by continents and loved ones left behind to face danger on a daily basis.

“Refugees now living in Wales have already been through barely imaginable pain and trauma and they deserve to be able to rebuild their lives and reunite their families in safety.

“Present family reunion rules prolong that suffering – causing untold stress and anxiety – and prevent refugees from beginning their new lives in their new communities in Wales.”

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Police officer was assaulted on Christmas Day

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A 25-YEAR-OLD woman from Haverfordwest appeared before the town’s magistrates on Tuesday (Jan 15) to face a charge of assault by beating against a police officer.

Tiffany Rowlands, of West Court, pleaded guilty to assaulting PC Gareth Potter on Christmas Day.

Prosecutor, Sian Vaughan said: “The officer was at the defendant’s property searching the childrens’ bedrooms.

“Rowlands pushed the officer to the chest, and after she calmed down apologised following the incident.”

Defence solicitor, Mark Layton, said: “There’s no record of any injury. They were upstairs, the lights were off so it was dark, and she realises it was wholly inappropriate.”

Magistrates fined Rowlands £40 for the offence and ordered her to pay £85 prosecution costs and £30 victim surcharge.

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Milford Haven: Booms to be removed following oil spill

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BOOMS installed earlier this month to contain an oil spill in the Milford Haven waterway will be removed tomorrow (Jan 17).

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and partner agencies have continued to survey the affected areas since the incident on 3 January and are satisfied that they have contained as much oil as possible.

Where oil has been found on local beaches, Valero’s clean up team have removed it under advice of NRW officers.

The investigation into how this incident, and the previous oil spill in December 2018, happened is ongoing.

Following further assessments and an inspection of the affected fuel pipelines, Valero now believe that no more than 500 litres of oil was released during the incident on 3 January – significantly less than originally feared.

But the pipelines will remain closed after NRW took action last week to suspend their use. NRW will not allow Valero to reopen the pipelines until it is satisfied they can operate without causing further damage to the local environment.

Andrea Winterton, Operations Manager from Natural Resources Wales, said: “Following a swift response from everyone involved, much of the pollution has been contained and cleaned up quickly, reducing the impact it could have had on wildlife and the environment.

“Along with our partners, we will continue to monitor the situation and will respond to any further reports of oil washing ashore in the coming weeks.

“Valero continue to support our efforts and cooperate with our enquiries into how the incidents happened. Our investigation also continues as we consider what further action we need to take to stop this happening again.”

NRW is asking people who live in the area to report any signs of pollution to their 24/7 incident hotline on 03000 65 3000.

The multi-agency response to this incident has involved the following organisations: NRW, Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Milford Haven Port Authority, Marine and Coastguard Agency, Public Health Wales, Food Standards Agency.

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Fishguard: Sex offender caught trying to flee to Ireland

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A sex offender from Bow Street near Aberystwyth who tried to move to Ireland without telling anyone has been jailed.

Dennis Bull, aged 67, was caught trying to drive a van onto the Fishguard–Rosslare ferry with his belongings in the back ready for a new life in the Republic.

Bull, of Nirmit, admitted failing to comply with the conditions of registration as a sex offender and was jailed for 16 months.

Dyfed Thomas, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court it was the third time he had breached the order, imposed at Caernarfon crown court in February, 2016, for possessing indecent images of children.

That conviction was on top of earlier offending in New Zealand that included indecent exposure, outraging public decency and gross indecency with a child.

Mr Thomas said Bull had been jailed for 16 months in 2016 and ordered to register with the police. The restrictions imposed included a requirement to tell the police if he intended to change address.

On November 13 last year police at Fishguard harbour became aware of a Ford Mondeo registered to Bull.

A few minutes later Bull was arrested as he attempted to drive a van onto the Stenna ferry, which was loaded with household items.

Bull told the police he had made arrangements to move to Ireland “lock, stock and barrel” because he understood the monitoring of sex offenders was less strict.

In particular, said Mr Thomas, Bull did not like prospective employers being told about his convictions.

Judge Geraint Walters told Bull, “This was a planned and determined attempt to avoid detection. It was only the eagle eyes of the authorities that brought you to book.

“Your record is troubling and you present a risk of committing more offences of a sexual nature.

 “You are defiant of court orders that are there to protect others and it is truly disturbing that you are so keen to breach them.”

Bull was warned that the 2016 order remained in place for a further seven years.

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