INITIAL funding of £1 million is being made available to help with Scotland’s response to the refugee crisis, the Scottish Government announced yesterday.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the cash is being offered to help the task force that has already been set up by ministers.
It comes in the wake of a summit, chaired by the First Minister, which brought together political leaders, religious groups, humanitarian organisations and wider civic Scotland, to discuss what could be done to help those fleeing Syria and other nations seeking safety in Europe.
The First Minister has already said Scotland should accept 1,000 people as a “starting point” for further help.
She said: “The heartbreaking scenes of desperate people fleeing their homes and looking for refuge in Europe have touched many people in Scotland and I know that there is great support across the country for us to play our part in offering what help we can.
“During the humanitarian summit I convened on Friday, we heard the personal testimony of those who escaped persecution or war and have now been welcomed in Scotland and made to feel part of the community. Their stories are inspirational and I hope that the steps we are now taking can help many more refugees like them make a better life for their families.”
She continued: “After that summit I announced that the steps required for us to accommodate our fair share of refugees would be examined and co-ordinated by a task force which will begin work this week establishing Scotland’s capacity in a range of important areas such as housing and health services.
“It will also have a crucial role in harnessing the goodwill that exists in Scotland and turning that into practical help for those in distress.
“Today I am pleased to confirm that the work of that task force will be supported by an initial £1 million in Scottish Government funding. This will ensure that the frontline organisations who will help refugees integrate into Scotland will have resources to carry out their work. We will consider what further support is required as the task force progresses its work.”
She spoke out as Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, the Archbishop of Glasgow, criticised the “mean-spirited and unhelpful” approach Britain has adopted towards the refugee crisis so far. “It is time to open our hearts and borders,” he said.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale welcomed the funding announcement from the Scottish Government, stating: “From Westminster to Holyrood to our council chambers, that rare thing has broken out amongst politicians – consensus.
“The labour movement has a proud history of working to welcome refugees, and so do the people of Scotland and the UK who, throughout history, have welcomed people fleeing for their lives. People who have, in turn, enriched our national life.”