SCOTLAND is ready to take “more than its share” of the 20,000 refugees David Cameron has agreed to allow into the UK, the Scottish Government says.
Social justice secretary Alex Neil called for the 20,000 to be increased and accepted quickly - ahead of the 2020 timescale set out by the Prime Minister.
The issue came under the spotlight for MSPs at Holyrood after the Scottish Government’s refugee task force met again yesterday. Scotland’s proportionate population share of that number would be around 2,000. Mr Neil said yesterday: “We will gladly take more than our fair share of people coming to the UK because we think it is the right thing to do. The crisis is now.
“That 20,000 should not only be increased, but should be front-loaded so we do as much as possible to deal with the crisis those people are facing and we do it as quickly as possibly.”
Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland would take 1,000 refugees - as a starting point.
The refugee task force was chaired yesterday by international development minister Humza Yousaf who said key services are being prepared for the refugees. Most councils have said they are willing to accommodate asylum seekers. A website has been set up for anyone wanting to donate time, skills, goods, accommodation or other practical help.
He said: “There are no easy solutions but we all have a responsibility as human beings to recognise the extent of the crisis and do something about it. Doing nothing is simply not an option.”
Labour’s Claire Baker agreed the UK government’s response to the crisis was “not enough”.
“The UK government must reconsider its refusal to participate in the EU reallocation scheme and it’s important that we as a parliament should continue to apply pressure on this issue,” she said. We must ensure refugees that come to Scotland are given more than just a home - they must be given hope of a better future.”
Conservative MSP John Lamont said: “It is unfair to accuse the UK government of lacking compassion based purely on the number of people allowed to stay in the UK.
“While it is correct that the UK is taking in more refugees, this is only part of the solution in an increasingly difficult and desperate humanitarian crisis.”