Make migrant people number one priority in PM talks

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has urged Nicola Sturgeon to make Scotland’s moral obligation to provide refuge to the migrant people seeking safety in Europe the number one priority in talks with Prime Minister David Cameron tomorrow (Friday 15th May).

In a letter sent to the First Minister today, Mr Rennie said the Scottish Government should come to the table with a clear plan to enable people, who are putting their lives at risk on a journey to Europe, to be accommodated in Scotland.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

First Minister,

You have set out your list of demands which you will put to the Prime Minister in talks with him tomorrow.

However in your role as First Minister I urge you to make Scotland’s moral obligation to provide refuge and safety to the migrants risking their lives on a journey from North Africa to Europe the number one priority in your talks with the Prime Minister.

It is a harrowing loss for humanity that this year over 1,800 people have already perished. The UN Refugee Agency estimates that in the past five months some 60,000 men, women and children have attempted the perilous and unforgiving crossing by boat from North Africa to Europe.

Our partners in Europe located closer to the unfolding tragedy, primarily Italy and Greece, are struggling with the full responsibility of this humanitarian crisis.

Scotland must play its fullest role in providing safety and refuge for migrants to the EU.

With that responsibility in mind, I urge you to use the full power of your government to do three things:

  • As a matter of urgency, set out a plan of action to demonstrate how such migrant people can be accommodated in Scotland at the earliest opportunity.
  • Explore the fullest extent of opportunities which exist in Scotland to accommodate people in such a desperate situation.
  • Convene a ministerial working group, working hand in hand with NGOs and partner agencies, with a remit to fulfil Scotland’s moral obligation to the Mediterranean migrants.

I believe compassion and mindfulness are critically important at this time. If your Government is able to move quickly to identify a detailed plan then it will give confidence that Scotland can play an important role.

We have a compelling duty as Europeans and as fellow humans to provide security for those in need.

I hope that you will do everything in your power to make this happen, and you will have the full support of the Scottish Liberal Democrats in these important efforts.

Willie Rennie 

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