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First Minister to host humanitarian summit

Published: 4 Sep 2015 00:01
Part of:
International

UK must take its fair share of people fleeing persecution and conflict - FM.

Scotland's response to the unfolding humanitarian tragedy in southern Europe will be set out at a summit chaired by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh tomorrow (Friday 4 September).

The First Minister will bring together stakeholders from the refugee community, third sector, local authorities, political leaders and other representatives of civic Scotland in Edinburgh to discuss the situation and set out what Scotland can do to help.

Ahead of the summit, the First Minister has again written to the Prime Minister urging him to sign up to the EU proposals on relocation and refugee resettlement and allow the UK to take its fair share of people fleeing persecution and conflict. A copy of this letter is below.

Earlier in the day, the First Minister told the Scottish Parliament that Scotland stood ready to help refugees in need of help. She said:

"I have taken the step of convening a summit tomorrow to which I have invited humanitarian organisations including the Scottish Refugee Council, leaders of councils and civic organisations and indeed our churches.

"As First Minister of Scotland, I pledge that I will ensure that Scotland does everything possible to help this refuges crisis. I will be far from the only person reduced to tears last night by the picture of a little boy washed up on a beach.

"That wee boy has touched our hearts but his is not an isolated tragedy. He and thousands like him, whose lives are at risk, are not somebody else's responsibility, they are the responsibility of all of us.

"I am angry, very angry, at the walk on by on the other side approach of the UK Government. I implore David Cameron to change his position and change it today. And I pledge, as First Minister of this country, that we stand ready to help offer sanctuary to refugees who need our help."

Notes to editors

The full text of the First Minister's letter to the Prime Minister is as follows:

Dear David,

I am in no doubt that we are all horrified by the scale of the refugee crisis unfolding on Europe's shore. The tragic death of three year old Aylan Kurdi, washed up on Turkey's beach line, only serves to highlight further the plight of the thousands of people seeking safety and protection.

The scale of such a humanitarian emergency is immense but it is not insurmountable. We recognise the need for long term, coordinated action to tackle the causes of this crisis but this cannot be a substitute for an immediate humanitarian response.

We, with our neighbours and friends across the EU, have a moral obligation to offer a place of safety to these desperate people fleeing conflict and persecution. I welcomed the expansion of the Syrian Vulnerable Person scheme but I would stress that this in itself is not sufficient to address the crisis we are witnessing.

I strongly urge you to reconsider the UK Government's current response. The Scottish Government believes we must take part in the EU response. We can start by participating in the initial EU proposals on relocation and refugee resettlement. The UK must take a proportionate share of people fleeing conflict and persecution.

I would once again reiterate that Scotland stands ready to support the UK Government in providing an appropriate response to this situation.

Nicola Sturgeon

The First Minister also wrote to the Prime Minister in August urging action. Details here - http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/FM-calls-for-action-over-Calais-1ba3.aspx

ENDS