AFGHAN families and child refugees are set to be welcomed to East Lothian as the county prepares to play its part in Scotland’s humanitarian crisis response.

East Lothian Council is planning to initially provide homes for three families currently staying in bridging hotels in the UK after fleeing Afghanistan.

A report to the council’s Labour administration cabinet next week will update them on the council’s progress.

And a second report will ask them to endorse plans to sign the council up to a National Transfer Scheme for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children.

If agreed, it is proposed that up to five young people, most of whom are currently arriving in the UK “by small boat” with no adult supervision, will be resettled in the county.

Cabinet members will be told that COSLA leaders signed Scottish local authorities up to a national transfer scheme in August which allows regions struggling to cope with the young refugees to ask for help from other councils.

It said that while many Scottish local authorities had already taken young people, East Lothian has not taken any to date.

The young people will be aged between 16 and 17-and-a-half years old under the COSLA agreement and it is anticipated that East Lothian will take one child on a 12-week rota basis.

However, officials recommended that the local authority opted to take two children at a time every second rota.

In a report to cabinet, they said: “COSLA has advised that there may be advantages in taking more than one young person, as services can be pooled, developed and utilised better for a small group, as opposed to the same support for only one young person.”

Members will be asked to approve the sign-up to the scheme at a virtual cabinet meeting next week, when they will also be updated on the action taken to date to prepare for Afghan refugee families coming to the county.

The update report on the Afghan resettlement scheme by council officers says the fact that the families are already in bridging hotels will make the transition into new communities easier and three houses have been identified as potential homes.

The report indicates that the initial three families will allow the council to “enable careful planning and ongoing review prior to accepting additional refugees”.

However, it also flags up some concerns about providing wider support for the new residents, pointing out that there is a requirement for families to “have access to prayer rooms/mosques”.

Currently, there are no mosques in East Lothian.

The Home Office is providing funding packages of £20,520 per person over three years for refugees coming into local authorities, with an additional £4,500 for education per child and £850 for English language per adult.

However, the report to the cabinet says: “There is no requirement in most cases for interpretation, as males have a good standard of English.

"Reports are noted regarding lack of engagement with ESOL (English-to-speakers-of-other-languages) provision for women, with the culture not permitting married women to take lessons.”

Cabinet members are asked to note the council’s current proposals for Afghan families.