New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy: 2024

A strategy supporting the integration of refugees, people seeking asylum and other forced migrants within Scotland’s communities. The strategy is led jointly by the Scottish Government, COSLA and Scottish Refugee Council.

Annex A: Contextual challenges for the New Scots Strategy

Global Context

Since the publication of the second New Scots Strategy, new challenges at the global scale have changed the context within which refugees arrive and settle in Scotland. The global COVID-19 pandemic changed the way services are delivered and underlined many pre- existing inequalities and inability to access services equitably.

As the term refugee has a specific meaning in international law, as defined under the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, the term ‘climate refugee’ or refugee in the context of environmental change is not yet formally recognised. However, there has been recognition that the effects of climate change and environmental disasters may interact with armed conflict, violence, persecution and displacement. In October 2020, UNHCR published legal considerations regarding claims for international protection made in the context of adverse effects of climate change and disasters. UNHCR has noted that climate change typically creates internal displacement within countries before it reaches a level where people are displaced across borders.[16]

For the first time, the number of displaced people worldwide is more than 100 million,[17] and this number is likely to grow. Across the span of the second New Scots Strategy, a global pandemic, the largest European war since the Second World War, and unprecedented rises in the cost of energy and basic goods have all fundamentally affected how, and indeed whether, it is possible to offer support to refugees while, at the same time, increasing the number of forced migrants worldwide. We can expect this pattern of increasingly serious, unanticipated crises to continue for the indefinite future.

Impact on delivery of New Scots Strategy

This context meant that there were challenges in meeting the aims of the second New Scots Strategy. This included the impacts of ongoing international wars and crises, such as the war against Ukraine, the civil wars of Sudan and Ethiopia, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the civil war in Syria. As a result, Scotland has participated in emergency evacuations while welcoming many other refugees seeking sanctuary.[18] In addition, the global COVID-19 pandemic highlighted many of the structural inequalities present in Scotland[19] (as well as worldwide) and the vulnerability of those seeking refuge in Scotland; while the ensuing cost of living and housing crises have significantly stretched resources and capacity to support refugee integration.

A succession of UK legislation has been introduced, including the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 and the Illegal Migration Act 2023. The UK Government has also made significant policy changes in relation to asylum which impacts people and communities in Scotland, including the announcement of a change to full dispersal in April 2022. Changes in UK policy and legislation impact people seeking asylum living in Scotland, as well as devolved services, third sector organisations and communities.

Concurrently, the publication of the third New Scots Strategy takes place within the context of increased negative discourse towards refugees across media outlets and discussion fora, and the significant strengthening of hostile migration policies put in place by the UK Government. This third iteration of the New Scots Strategy therefore seeks to build on the successes of the first two New Scots Strategies, enact lessons learnt through Scotland’s responses to the global crises since the previous Strategy, particularly from the Afghan resettlement and relocation programmes and the Warm Scottish Welcome programme for displaced people from Ukraine, and create opportunities for enacting the principles and vision of the New Scots Strategy.



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