SCOTLAND'S first group of Congolese refugees will be offered a welcome pack containing Tunnock's teacakes, along with traditional African fare, when they arrive in their new home of North Lanarkshire on Wednesday.

The 22 refugees, who have automatic leave to remain, are part of a larger group of 80 given the opportunity under a Home Office resettlement programme to start new lives as British citizens in the district.

The nine adults and 13 children will be housed throughout the south of the area and will have French and Swahili-speaking interpreters on hand to help them settle in.

Community leaders in Motherwell will give the five families their first taste of Scotland by introducing them to Tunnock's teacakes and shortbread.

Father Stephen Miller, of St Luke's parish church, Forgewood, said he has prepared gift packs for the families with the help of local donations.

He said: "We've got enough food to last them the first couple of days, including some indigenous African foods which they will recognise from home like cassava, chikwangue, lots of rice and some breads. We do have Scottish food like the notorious Tunnock's teacake, shortbread and some ginger beer too, but we've steered it away from haggis and black pudding."

Miller will also hand out gloves, hats and scarves to prepare the new arrivals for the Scottish climate, as well as household necessities such as towels and shampoo. He has also organised a group of local befrienders.

The refugees are being resettled under the Gateway Protection Programme, a Home Office and United Nations High Commission for Refugees partnership forged in 2002 when the UK government agreed to resettle 500 people every year. The Home Office covers all relevant costs for accommodation, healthcare, education and social work.

The Gateway programme is specifically for the most vulnerable refugees from the poorest countries in the world, who are often fleeing persecution and torture. The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed around four million lives since it began in 1998.

Once in the UK the refugees will be given National Insurance numbers and will be able to access services available to British citizens.

Mary Castles, assistant chief executive of North Lanarkshire Council, said the refugees will be encouraged to become independent and integrate into the community.

Other Scottish councils such as Aberdeenshire and the Western Isles have also expressed an interest in introducing the Gateway programme.

Sally Daghlian, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, said she hoped North Lanarkshire Council "will inspire other Scottish local authorities to follow suit in giving some of the world's most vulnerable people a new start in life".