Refugee crisis: charities will attend emergency summit

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​First minister convenes summit on the European refugee crisis

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3rd September 2015 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Charities, aid groups and civil society leaders will take part in a major summit today (Friday) to discuss Europe’s escalating refugee crisis.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the meeting after condemning the “walk on by” attitude of the UK government in the teeth of mounting outrage at the plight of families fleeing war zones.

She said she had been moved to tears by pictures of three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi whose lifeless body was found washed up on a beach in Turkey after the boat carrying him and other desperate refugees capsized.

The summit takes place in Edinburgh and it has been confirmed that Amnesty International and the Scottish Refugee Council will take part.

Trade unionists, churches and charities, as well as council leaders, will also be called upon to help frame a Scottish response to the crisis.

I am very angry at the walk-on-by attitude of the UK government and I implore David Cameron to change his position

Naomi McAuliffe, programme director of Amnesty International in Scotland,  said: "A tiny amount of Syrians have been settled in the UK - 216 people - but two thirds of those have been in Glasgow," she said.

"Scotland has demonstrated that it does have a far more positive response to these kind of humanitarian disasters and therefore it is quite positive for refugees to come into that context.

"Certainly in terms of our current intake of refugees, the UK is falling far, far below other EU countries so I think we can definitely up the number that we're taking at the moment."

Ahead of the summit, the first minister wrote to UK prime minister David Cameron, 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. 

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Sturgeon said: “I pledge that I will ensure Scotland will do everything possible to help in this refugee crisis.

"I will be far from the only person reduced to tears at 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 is not someone else's responsibly; they are the responsibility of all of us.

"So yes I am angry, I am very angry at the walk-on-by attitude of the UK government and I implore David Cameron to change his position and change it today.

"I pledge as first minister of this country that we stand ready to offer sanctuary to refugees that need our help."