THE UK needs to be “generous in providing a safe haven” for refugees seeking to enter Europe, a leading member of the Scottish Catholic Church has argued.
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, the Archbishop of Glasgow, criticised the “mean-spirited and unhelpful” approach Britain has adopted so far, as he urged: “It is time to open our hearts and borders.”
The senior clergyman spoke out after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday that the UK must do more to help those who are fleeing war-torn Syria for a new life in Europe.
Ms Sturgeon said Scotland should accept 1,000 people as a ‘’starting point’’ for further help, with a new taskforce being set up by the Scottish Government to establish the capacity of available housing and support.
In the face of intense political pressure, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged the UK would resettle ‘’thousands more’’ people from the refugee camps in the countries bordering Syria.
The archbishop said that was a “welcome but vague promise to allow in more desperate people fleeing chaos” but he said the Conservative leader “appeared to offer no hope to those who have already reached Europe”.
In an article in The Herald newspaper he said the “poignant horror” of images of the three year old Syrian child Aylan Kurdi washed up dead on the shore of a Turkish beach had helped “bring our society to its senses”.
The archbishop stated: “In my view the refugees crisis is a test, not of political shrewdness, but of common humanity. What is happening in the Mediterranean, Calais and other access points is an affront to human dignity.
“The UK should be generous in providing a safe haven for refugees and asylum seekers; Britain’s policy in the Mediterranean of rescue and deposit elsewhere is mean-spirited and unhelpful to the nations who are bearing the brunt of the migrations - especially Italy and Greece.”