COUNCILLORS have promised to support refugees affected by the Syrian crisis after backing a motion tabled by the Liberal Democrats party at a meeting last Thursday.

The motion, which was tabled at a full council meeting, said that an estimated nine million people from Syria have fled their homes.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over three million people have fled to immediate neighbouring countries including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq and 6.5 million people are internally displaced within Syria.

Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron announced the UK would take up to 20,000 refugees over the next four-and-a-half years.

The motion called on the borough council’s decision-making Cabinet to work with colleagues at Hampshire County Council to co-ordinate an effort to help refugees and explore the opportunities for foster care for children orphaned by the conflict.

In addition, it sought to establish a system to assist households who can provide accommodation for refugees by working with community groups and churches.

It also called for the local authority to write to the Prime Minister to assure him that Basingstoke and Deane “stands ready and willing to help at this time of international crisis.

Although Conservative councillor Joyce Bowyer supported the motion, she urged councillors to think of the impact on the people of Basingstoke and Deane, adding: “What we have to bear in mind is that this situation is long-term and how will this affect our vulnerable existing residents of Basingstoke, particularly those who are on the housing waiting list and worst of all those who have nowhere to call their home.”

Cabinet member for communities, service delivery and improvement, Cllr Robert Tate, said the borough council would designate a specialist refugee officer when it is known what part the borough can play in the relief effort.