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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
City to house asylum seekers
Sighthill flats in Glasgow
Sighthill houses most of Scotland's asylum seekers
Councillors in Edinburgh have agreed to house up to 180 asylum seekers as part of the government's dispersal policy.

The city council has not offered homes to any of the current batch of asylum seekers because of its own housing emergency.

Two hundred families have been moved out of unsafe houses in the Scottish capital due to subsidence caused by old mine workings.

Sighthill protest
There have been demonstrations in Sighthill

But now the authority says it is ready to accept asylum seekers and not leave it all to Glasgow, which is home to the 5,000 people who have been brought to Scotland.

The largest proportion have been located in the Sighthill area of the city.

However, the demonstrations and racial tension which followed the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish refugee last month led to calls for asylum seekers to be dispersed more evenly around the country in future.

Fife, West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire have already offered to take asylum seekers and now Edinburgh is following suit.

But land subsidence in the Ferniehill, Moredun Park and Gilmerton areas had meant hundreds of people were evacuated and 200 families had to be rehoused after whole rows of council houses were left unsafe.

'Learn lessons'

Edinburgh City Council says it is determined to learn the lessons of Sighthill.

After a meeting on Tuesday the council offered 100 homes for up to 180 people - probably in Granton, Wester Hailes and Craigmillar.

Local community and ethnic groups have already been involved in discussions and the council is pushing for the asylum seekers to be moved in on a gradual basis..

The move comes days after the Scottish Executive said it was introducing a minister for asylum issues.

The responsibility has been added to the portfolio of Social Justice Minister Jackie Baillie.

She will deal with devolved issues including health, education, social work and policing - although the Home Office remains in charge of immigration policy and the controversial voucher scheme.

The Scottish National Party has called for her remit to be expanded to include these matters, warning that she will be "hamstrung" if responsibility remains at Westminster.

See also:

09 Sep 01 | Scotland
Executive appoints asylum minister
15 Aug 01 | Scotland
SNP seeks devolved asylum powers
09 Aug 01 | Scotland
Councils to ease refugee plight
30 Jul 01 | Scotland
Mines blamed for housing collapses
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