NICOLA Sturgeon said she would be “happy” to have a Syrian refugee stay in her home as she continued to press the UK Government to accept “significant numbers” of those fleeing from Syria to Europe.
While the Scottish First Minister said she would open her door, she stressed the need for Europe to develop a coordinated approach to dealing with the growing crisis.
Ms Sturgeon has already said that Scotland should accept 1,000 people as a ‘’starting point’’ for further help, with initial funding of £1 million going to a new taskforce that has been set up to look at what can be done.
The SNP leader told the Murnaghan programme on Sky News: “I’ve been overwhelmed myself with messages from people across Scotland saying they personally would be happy to give a home temporarily, or for a longer period of time, to somebody fleeing Syria.
“Yes, I would be absolutely happy to do that as part of a bigger, wider, organised approach.”
The taskforce, set up after Ms Sturgeon chaired an emergency summit in Edinburgh on Friday, will “look at how we prepare in a very detailed and practical way for the possibility of welcoming a number of refugees in the weeks and months ahead”.
But with responsibility for the UK’s borders lying with Westminster, the SNP leader said unless David Cameron was prepared to welcome significant numbers of refugees to the UK, the question of how many could find a new home in Scotland is “academic”.
The First Minister said: “We have to be prepared to do the practical planning work for this. I’ve said as a starting point, not as a cap or a limit, we should immediately start doing the work to prepare ourselves for taking a minimum of 1,000 refugees.”
But she added: “Unless the UK Government changes, and there are signs that it is changing its position, on it being prepared to accept significant numbers of refugees, then this is to some extent an academic discussion for Scotland, because we don’t control the borders of the UK.”
She called on the Prime Minister to put “much more flesh on the bones” of his commitment to take in ‘’thousands more’’ people from camps outside Syria.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I hope we hear a meaningful number from David Cameron, I’ve heard indications today that he maybe looking at 10,000 or 15,000, and then Scotland would be prepared to take whatever is a proportionate share of that for Scotland.”
While Mr Cameron is coming under increasing pressure for Britain to use take military action in a bid to resolve the situation in war-torn Syria, Ms Sturgeon said she was “sceptical” about the impact air strikes would have.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey became the latest senior figure to call for a renewed military effort to ‘’crush’’ Islamic State.
But Ms Sturgeon said: “I have scepticism about the efficacy of air strikes, but I’m willing to listen to the case the UK Government puts forward.
“But I think it has to start to come forward with a case that is very clear in setting out what its objective is and how any proposed air strikes - which I would be sceptical about the efficacy of - would fit in to a longer term political and diplomatic sustainable solution to what is going on in Syria.”
She described the situation in Syria as “complicated”, and said “it is incumbent on anybody proposing air strikes to say how that fits in to a wider, longer term, more sustainable, solution”.
The First Minister stated: “I believe the only long term, sustainable solution here, not that it’s easy or that it can be delivered quickly, but the only sustainable solution is a political and diplomatic one.”
Meanwhile, with refugees continuing to flock towards Europe, she stressed there must be “a wider coordinated approach across Europe”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “No one country can deal with the refugee crisis on its own, but if Europe and all the members of the European Union come together and deal with this in a coordinated way with every country playing its part, then just maybe there is the possibility of putting forward a humanitarian response that is commensurate to the scale of the crisis we’re facing.”