First Syrian refugees touch down in Belfast

Plane carrying 51 Syrian refugees lands at Belfast International Airport. ''Picture: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Plane carrying 51 Syrian refugees lands at Belfast International Airport. ''Picture: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

A plane carrying 51 Syrian refugees has landed at Belfast International Airport.

The group, made up of 10 families and including a new-born baby, flew from Beirut in Lebanon on Tuesday and will initially be housed in welcome centres.

They have been welcomed by Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness following their “turbulent and traumatic time” since fleeing the war-torn country.

First Minister Mr Robinson said: “I welcome each of the Syrian families to Northern Ireland and hope that they will quickly feel safe and secure in their new home. I have no doubt the people of Northern Ireland will extend a very warm hand of friendship, charity and generosity to our new friends and families.

“They can count on our continued support and encouragement in what has been a turbulent and traumatic time for all of them. The people of Northern Ireland do not just offer somewhere to live but the promise of a future full of hope.”

Mr McGuinness said: “Rest assured our people will open their arms and hearts to all who arrive here. They have been forced to leave the place they call home due to the persecution and pain being inflicted upon them in their homeland. We shall make every effort to help them settle quickly here and feel as content as possible in their new environment.”

The Deputy First Minister added: “Today starts a new chapter in their lives and we all must play an active part to make sure they feel welcome, accepted and valued. I appeal to all our people to act kindly and compassionately and help rebuild and restore their faith in humanity.”