ANOTHER 10 refugee families from war-torn Syria are expected to be housed in Oxford next year, the leader of the city council has confirmed.

Bob Price said they would join some 48 people already settled in the city through a programme run by the Government, which provides asylum to people in United Nations camps.

It was set up to help Syrians fleeing the five-year civil war in their country that officials now estimate has claimed more than 400,000 lives.

Mr Price said: "We have already taken 48 refugees in Oxford this year and we also think we will be able to do more next year.

"Those we have taken on so far are doing okay but some have significant physical and mental health problems, which is why they may have been chosen.

"Many of these people have been through trauma and settling into a new culture is challenging at the best of times.

"All bar some have also had a relatively poor level of education so it is not an easy transition to make, but they are getting superb support from Asylum Welcome.

"As the population of Syrians in Oxford grows, they will hopefully become more of a community.

"We know the level of support for these schemes is still very high and the landlords we are working with have been really helpful, which reflects the general good will there is towards refugees."

But he said it was still not clear whether the Government would allow resettled Syrian refugees to continue to claim asylum or be returned to Syria, depending on whether the war continued.

Mr Price added: "Our main concern remains the position of the families after the five-year programme has ended."

Oxford-based Asylum Welcome is working with the city council to help the Syrians when they arrive, meeting them at the airport and putting them in touch with other local organisations.

Kate Smart, the charity's director, said many were "incredibly grateful" to have been granted asylum.

She added: "We are taking quite a cheerful and positive approach that focuses on optimism about what life can be like for them here.

"That can include making sure they have what they need in their houses but also little things, like ensuring the kids have their uniforms for school which has been really nice.

"Many of these families have come from very large refugee camps and are among a relatively small number of people to come here, so they know how lucky they are.

"Most are keen to get on with life. I spoke to a gentleman recently who, the day after he had arrived, wanted to know how he could get work.

"We are also trying to help develop a Syrian network to bring the community together and make sure people do not become isolated."

A rally in September last year in Oxford attracted hundreds in support of providing asylum to refugees.

This week a motion will be debated by the city council calling for it to be "at the forefront of the effort to promote safety and inclusion to people seeking refuge and sanctuary".